Away Teams & Field Reports

Away Team Astronauts Practice Descent Skills During ESA CAVES Training

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 12, 2024
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Away Team Astronauts Practice Descent Skills During ESA CAVES Training
Away Team Astronauts Practice Descent Skills During ESA’s CAVES Training

Editor’s note: Circular pits – and caves – have been discovered on the Moon and on Mars. They have been suggested as possible locations for establishing base camp infrastructure since they are shielded from light and radiation – but also as places where various chemicals could be present due to protection from sunlight. On Mars micro-environments shield from radiation could be possible locations to search for biosignatures – or even extant life. While drones and robots could be designed to explore these features, when it comes to searching for life, having humans on the scene is desirable. As such astronauts travelling off world for prolonged visits and Away Team activities need to have a suite of skills including descent and ascent from deep underground features.

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

The six cavenauts of this edition of CAVES are ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Jeanette Epps, Roscosmos’ cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Josh Kutryk and JAXA’s space agency Takuya Onishi.

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

As they explore caves they encounter caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They test new technology and conduct science – just as if they were living on the International Space Station.

The six astronauts have to rely 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.

Uploaded on November 13, 2019 Credits: ESA–V. Crobu Larger image

Astrobiology, spelunking,

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻