Caves to Mission Control ---
ESA is developing an application that tells astronauts where they are, keeping track of scientific operations and report to mission control. The Electronic Field Book is a tool that collects mission data in one place, from locations to science communications.
This all-in-one, easy-to-use app can run without an internet connection, merge data on the fly and communicate with ground teams from base camp. Recording audio and video logs is also possible – no need for pen and paper anymore.
Astronauts from five space agencies around the world are testing the tool during ESA’s CAVES training course – Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills.
Just as Hansel left a trail of bread crumbs to be able to come back home, the explorers can leave virtual markers on each laser-mapped location and retrieve them on the Electric Field Book to understand where they are, where the science locations are or how to return to base camp.
Another first is the introduction of a high-bandwidth wireless communication from base camp to the outside world. This approach uses several shoebox-sized wireless autonomous transmitters that forward data to the next node.
This experimental data forwarding technique could one day be used on the Moon or Mars, where direct communication is not possible and time delays are part of mission control’s problems.
The six cavenauts of this edition of CAVES are ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Jeanette Epps, Roscosmos’ cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Josh Kutryk and Japan’s space agency JAXA’s Takuya Onishi.
The three-week course prepares astronauts to work safely and effectively in multicultural teams in an environment where safety is critical.
As they explore caves they encounter caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They test new technology and conduct science – just as if they were living on the International Space Station.
Read more about CAVES on our dedicated website and follow this year's CAVES campaign in the new blog.