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Paving the way for the unexpected

The path of space exploration is made of rocks. Unveiling the secrets harbored by minerals in other planets and moons requires testing advanced technologies right here on Earth. One of the experiments carried out during the latest...

Hunting for Mars-like bacteria in a volcanic cave

A team of microbiologists, engineers and an astronaut partnered up during the latest Pangaea-X campaign to look for Mars-like life in a lava tube, and found more than 10 species – assisted by a smartphone. The results...

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The bowels of Earth in 3D

As a child, Tommaso Santagata would have never imagined that he would test some of the newest and most innovative 3D-scanning technologies for future space exploration. Last year, he spent five days of intense mapping in Lanzarote,...

Digging into the surface

The Pangaea-X test campaign brought together geology, high-tech survey equipment and space exploration. On the island of Lanzarote, Spain, Pangaea-X run for five days in November 2017 and mobilised 50 people, four space agencies and 18 organisations. ...

The beauty of science

Here I am on a plane leaving the beautiful island of Lanzarote. Fields covered with majestic lava flows, volcanic cones peppering the landscape: some are dark black, others of different red tones, giving hints to their age,...

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Learning to crawl on planetary bodies

Elapsed time: one year. In 2016 we took off on this extraordinary journey through European analogue environments, to learn first-hand from the best planetary field geologists how to crawl on planetary bodies in search for the best...

Rocky rocket science

Geology and rocket science, what do they have in common? For starters, they are both incredibly exciting and result in ground-breaking discoveries. When engineers and scientists join forces, the results can be skyrocketing. To quote the man...

Matthias and Samantha inspecting rocks. Credits: ESA–R. Shone

The astronauts are back!

We are in the middle of a 25-km wide impact crater in Nördlingen, Gemany, to look at impact rocks. With “we” I mean two ESA astronauts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer, and several instructors from across Europe....

View from the top. Credits: ESA–Robbie Shone

Walking on diamonds

With a steady pace we’re heading for the top of Nördlingen’s church tower. “Look at the shiny steps of the staircase!”, points out our instructor Francesco Sauro. The view from the belfry is more than rewarding for...

CAVES eXpedition One: a blog in three parts

  Last month ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano participated in the CAVES eXpedition One, where he joined a scientific expedition organised by La Venta Association and the Commissione Grotte Eugenio Boegan in Cucchiara caves near Sciacca, Sicily. These...