CAVES 2016 In Pictures: How Astronauts Train for Space by Cave Diving

Extraterrestrial Terrain


The Sardinian caves, the location for the CAVES training, definitely present an alien atmosphere. Here, the explorers investigate the largest chamber at Dolines hole.

Being Goofy


Part of the CAVES training experience involves working with a multicultural team, learning how to work as a team, understanding multicultural differences and banding together to communicate well. The "cavenauts" pose for a fun pic at Dolines hole.

Spacious Caverns


The 2016 CAVES crew tested newly developed 3D modeling techniques utilizing standard cameras. These techniques could easily be used while exploring other planets. Here the crew crosses through the Dolomites hole.

Learning Autonomy


Another aspect of the CAVES training prepares astronauts to complete expeditions outside the safety of the International Space Station where they will be responsible for safety, planning and equipment maintenance. Here the crew explores the Dolomites hole.

Experimental Practice


Experiments on substances found on a new planet will provide critical information about the environment and habitats there. While exploring the Dolomites hole, "cavenauts" sample water from a pool.

Practicing a Role


Each astronaut received a role assignment for the CAVES training. NASA's Jessica Meir, as expedition biologist, carefully captures bugs from a pool.

Camp Duties


NASA's Ricky Arnold shared commander and campsite duties with Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide. Here Arnold recovers the inflatable boat used to cross Baikal Lake.

Thinking Small


As expedition scientist for environmental science ESA astronaut Pedro Duque sampled microbes for further study.



The ability to work together and get along is crucial for a team on a mission such as the CAVES training or exploring other planets. The 2017 CAVES astronauts showed great ability to collaborate. The diverse group poses for a picture at Rainbow Lake.

Taking Lead


During his time as expedition commander Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide communicated daily with the Ground team, relaying pertinent information about the mission using the TEDRA system.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.