Image: Spelunking astronauts train for teamwork

July 7, 2016, European Space Agency
Credit: ESA-V.Crobu

Astronauts from five space agencies around the world are taking part in ESA's CAVES training course – Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills.

The two-week course prepares to work safely and effectively in multicultural teams in an environment where safety is critical.

As they explore the of Sardinia they will encounter caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They are testing new technology and conducting science – just as if they were living on the International Space Station. The six astronauts relying on their own skills, teamwork and ground control to achieve their mission goals – the course is designed to foster effective communication, decision-making, problem-solving, leadership and team dynamics.

This year is the first international space cooperation to involve astronauts from China, Russia, Japan, ESA and America, with cosmonaut Sergei Vladimirovich, ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, taikonaut Ye Guangfu, Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide and NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Jessica Muir taking part.

This picture was taken on the second day underground for the 'cavenauts'. They will spend six nights without sunlight, setting up basecamp in the Sa Grutta cave in Sardinia, Italy. As with any astronaut mission, science and technology are an important part of the undertaking. The astronauts are making 3D maps of the caves they explore using photograph-based measurements.

Explore further: Underground astronauts preparing for space

Related Stories

Underground astronauts preparing for space

June 24, 2016

We usually send them 400 km up, but next week ESA will be sending six astronauts 800 m underground into the rocky caves of Sardinia, Italy. The caving course recreates aspects of a space expedition with an international crew ...

Astronauts train by living in extreme conditions

June 25, 2014

ESA's team of astronaut trainers spent last week in the caves of Sardinia preparing for CAVES 2014, a two-week course for astronauts to get to grips with living in extreme conditions.

Cavenauts return to Earth

September 21, 2012

The international team of astronauts taking part in ESA's caving adventure have returned to Earth after spending six days underground. The voyage to the surface of our planet took them five hours from basecamp.

Recommended for you

NASA powers on new instrument staring at the Sun

March 16, 2018

NASA has powered on its latest space payload to continue long-term measurements of the Sun's incoming energy. Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), installed on the International Space Station, became fully ...

Dawn reveals recent changes in Ceres' surface

March 15, 2018

Observations of Ceres have detected recent variations in its surface, revealing that the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system is a dynamic body that continues to evolve and change.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.