A microscopic close up of the material collected in the swabs for analysis. Credit: ESA/S.Leuko

The microbiological world of caves

Without light to sustain plants, and the typical food chains we see on the Earth’s surface, the creatures that live underground need to be innovative in their search for fuel to survive. As a microbiologist, I am...

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Meet the team: Matthias Maurer

Astronauts are busy beings. No matter how far in advance we plan their activities, at some point some very important matter can take precedence, and they have to dash off. In the space business we’re ready for this— we  nominate...

Alessandro Boesso emerging from Sardinian Grutta cave with Paxi Credit:ESA/L.Bessone

WOW

This simple yet powerful little word perfectly describes what I have been feeling fairly constantly since I joined the CAVES team only a few months ago. The preparation of this very special space analogue course, that brings...

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Meet the Team: Alessandro Boesso

Enthusiasm. That is the word that best describes Alessandro. He has the same enthusiasm and curiosity you find in a child, accompanied by a strong professionalism, an excellent organisation, and a wonderful team spirit. Ah, I forgot:...

Antonio Bellu

Getting ready for CAVES: preparing your body

When you start caving you realise you have muscles that go beyond your wildest anatomical imagination. Crawling, abseiling, climbing, swimming, moving through tight spots, using your arms and legs to hold your body in impossible positions, keeping...

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Orbiting below Earth

The claustrophobic underground world of caves and the vast emptiness of outer space: two environments not commonly associated to each other. Their physical and chemical characteristics are, indeed, so strikingly different to be almost antithetic. At a...

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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
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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...