Training astronauts to be scientists on the moon

The European Space Agency is now training astronauts to identify planetary geological features for future missions to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. Luca Parmitano and Pedro Duque will work under the supervision of leading European planetary geologists and apply their knowledge during field trips in Bressanone, Italy. Credit: ESA-T. Burnaby

Astronauts looking to the moon receive world-class geological training during the fifth edition of the European Space Agency’s Pangea campaign. From choosing landing sites for a future Artemis mission, to designing scientific operations for the lunar surface, the course challenges space explorers to become field scientists.

Today, ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst and NASA’s Stephanie Wilson began a crash course that will take them across Europe. The training will teach them how to read the landscape, collect scientifically relevant rocks, and effectively communicate their geological observations with teams on the ground.

“As a new era of space exploration approaches, it is of paramount importance to us astronauts To have a good foundation of knowledge of planetary geology. It’s the next level up, incorporating lessons from Earth’s past into future Moon and Mars exploration,” says Alexander.

Alexander and Stephanie will learn how to achieve science-driven goals in lunar and Mars-like terrain, both by exploring independently and in coordination with Earth science teams.

Pangea project leader Loredana Bessone says Pangea’s crew of European planetary scientists and engineers “will make sure that they are working in tandem using the best geological observing techniques.”

“We want them to find and collect the most interesting specimens during their future travels and be prepared for their mission and landing site specific training.

geology grand tour

Balanced combination of theory and field tripsThe course begins this week in the Italian Dolomites with lessons in the geology of Mars and asteroids in the Bletterbach Valley.







The European Space Agency’s Pangea course prepares astronauts and space engineers to determine the geological features of the planet for future missions to the Moon, Mars and asteroids. Credit: ESA-V. Krupo

From September 12-17, Alexander and Stephanie will follow in the footsteps of Apollo astronauts to study Germany’s Reiss crater, one of the best-preserved impact craters on Earth, where American crews trained before their flight to the Moon.

Learn about the geological interactions between volcanic activity And water – two key factors in the search for life – were targeted on a trip to the volcanic landscapes of Lanzarote, Spain in November 2022.

extraterrestrial scientists

The trainees of the fifth edition of Pangea have completed extensive scientific training before them space missions.

Geophysicist, volcanologist and commander of the International Space Station As recently as 2018, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst spent more than 5,700 sunrises and sunsets in space.

Alexander finds it fascinating to seek answers to scientific questions not only in orbit, but also here among us on Earth. He also drilled underground as part of the European Space Agency’s CAVES exercise in 2019.

“The Pangea campaign is particularly interesting to me as a trained geophysicist who has done a lot of fieldwork in the past – so far only on planet Earth but I hope to change that,” he says.

The European astronaut will partner with Stephanie Wilson, a senior NASA astronaut and a member of the Artemis team – a selection to prepare for and possibly fly on upcoming lunar missions. As such, she could become the first woman to set foot The surface of the moon.

She was a veteran of three space shuttle missions to the International Space Station, and has logged more than 42 days in space. Stephanie has a great curiosity for the unknown and is drawn to problem solving.


Astronaut geology heading to the moon


more information:
The European Space Agency’s Pangea campaign: www.esa.int/Science_Exploratio… gaea / What_is_Pangaea

Introduction of
European Space Agency


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