Washington: ESA is known for sending astronauts to space, but last week six astronauts from around the world spent six days underground to get a taste of working together in extreme conditions.
ESA`s caves training in Sardinia, Italy ended with a debriefing.
Veteran and rookie astronauts worked together and learned from each other on how to conduct science and survive in isolation while living disconnected from Earth`s normal day and night cycle - just like on the International Space Station.
This year ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Russian cosmonaut Aleksei Ovchinin, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and NASA astronauts Mike Barratt and Jack Fischer explored and mapped more of the underground world than ever before thanks to the prototype CaveSniper surveying tool.
Exploring and mapping a cave is time-consuming and often involves three people: one wields the instruments, one takes notes and one scouts for the next survey location and holds the target for measurements.
CaveSniper combines all these measurements wirelessly and uploads them to a computer for a complete 3D map of the cave, allowing the `cavenauts` to survey almost 1.5 km of galleries this year.