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

Working Together


Expedition commander Aki Hoshide and expedition engineer — China's Ye Guangfu — assist team member Pedro across Baikal Lake in the small inflatable boat.

Safety First


The entire 2016 CAVES training team, astronauts and speleologists, prepare for descent into a pit inside Sa Grutta. The CAVES staff double check operations' security to ensure the safety of the group.

More to Explore


The Sardinian cave system in Italy provides a unique, other-worldly experience for the astronauts. This distinctive location offers big chambers, small passages and more.

Fun Finds


Another unexpected find in the depths of the Earth, astronauts and team traverse an underground rocky ridge.



Among the wild terrains provided in the Sardinian cave systems the explorers navigate through ridiculously narrow passages. Russia's Sergei Korsakov — who was in charge of photo and video engineering duties — peeks up through one of these passages.



After a day's explorations, the group returns to their base camp. The six astronauts decompress near their tents before bedtime.

Awaiting Ascent


Loredana Bessone, mission director, and Professor Jo de Waele participated in the six-night mission. They wait below Campo Chessa to ascend and meet with the other team members.

Leading by Example


The astronauts in training are not the only participants in this experience. CAVES mission director Loredana Bessone fully participates, squeezing through a tight opening.



The team managed to work in some fun and creative pass times. Just before lights out, this entertaining sight was created. Watch an amazing video of the CAVES 2016 mission and read our full story here.

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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.