Antonio Fortunato during CAVES 2013. Credits: ESA-V. Crobu

Meet the team: Antonio Fortunato

Antonio has worked at the European Astronaut Centre for only a few years, but he’s already been asked to be part of a number of important activities that we organise. Which means, he’s overbooked. Guess what? Last...

Dripping filter experiment. Credits: ESA-V. Crobu

Dripping Filter

During CAVES 2013, the astronauts performed an experiment to sample aquatic fauna found in microscopic cracks in rocks. The water drips down from stalactites. The fauna in this environment is composed mainly of small invertebrates as small...

Training astronauts during missions – dripping filter

When astronauts fly to space, they have to perform scientific experiments on behalf of the scientists who designed the experiments. Often those experiments are performed more than six months after the training was provided. Sometimes, although not often, no training is performed at all due to changes in planning leading up to the experiment. What we do in those cases, and what is being used more often to refresh astronauts knowledge on the finer details of operations, is prepare OnBoard Training (OBT) video instructions. For CAVES 2013, we decided to include such a training video for the Dripping Filter experiment. The experiment requires a simple set of operations, but with critical steps...


Evidence-based medicine in dark and alien environments

I like to contrast caves and their dark development to the extraordinary environments above them such as remote mountains, glaciers, deserts, unspoiled forests, and major cities like Napels as well as incredible islands like Sardinia, lying in...

Giacomo Strapazzon. Credit: ESA-V.Crobu

Meet the Team: Giacomo Strapazzon

Caves are rather uncomfortable but fascinating environments, you need be aware of obstacles, directions, yourself and your teammates, as well as be alert to dangers. All this is in just the dim light of a helmet torch....


Karst lesson 3: Cave genesis

Jo de Waele continues his lecture on Karst and how caves are formed. How do caves form by the action of water? What does the shape of a cave tell us about its formation? What are the main prerequisites for a cave to form? What are the three phases of speleogenesis (cave formation)? How long does it take to form a cave? Is a cave formed by dissolution or erosion? YouTube


Karst lesson two: surface morphologies

What does the ground above a carbonatic cave look like? How does a river disappear underground a blind valley? What do rillen, karren and solution pans look like? Find out in part two of the Karst lecture: YouTube


Karst for non-specialists

Not many people in the world understand the importance of karst, or even know what karst is. ‘Karst’ does not sound particularly inviting, and it could be confused with a disease, a curse, or other bad things. In reality karst is the name of a region, between Slovenia and Northeast Italy, where rock dissolution has created a wide set of beautiful surfaces and subsurface landforms, most important of all are the caves. The word 'caves' is more commonly known but it often evokes fear and danger. Caves are often thought to be dark (and up to here people guess right), with bad air (only when exhausted cavers pass by does it sometimes...