ESA title
Science & Exploration


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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / CAVES and Pangaea

The Pangaea training course is designed to provide astronauts with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills to be effective field scientists during future planetary exploration missions to the Moon and Mars.

Geological training in terrestrial Moon and Mars analogue environments
Geological training in terrestrial Moon and Mars analogue environments

The Pangaea course offers leading European scientists and geological analogue environments to teach astronauts the basics of field geology and astrobiology. The course has a strong focus on developing skills to identify and document scientifically relevant samples in the field and communicate to ground control using efficient and geologically correct language. This teaches Pangaea trainees to become both autonomous field scientists and effective counterparts to the ground science teams that support scientific exploration in space.


  • Learn about the geological processes of Earth, Moon, Mars and asteroids.
  • Develop skills to identify geological features, perform efficient sampling and report to ground control concisely and correctly.
  • Recognise and describe environments that could host extra-terrestrial life.

Course structure and locations

The course is split into four sessions. These consist of:

  • Fundamentals of Earth and planetary geology, Martian sedimentary geology and surface processes through field trips in Bletterbach Canyon, Italy,
  • Lunar geology and impact cratering at the Nördlinger Ries crater, Germany,
  • Training in field geological traverses and astrobiology in the pristine volcanic terrains of Lanzarote, Spain.
  • Magma differentiation and the lunar highlands in Lofoten, Norway.

Technology for planetary exploration

In addition to its core training focus, Pangaea works to develop exploration technologies, such as the Electronic Field Book and the Mineralogical Database , which augment its core training activities and aim to enhance future exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. A spin-off programme, Pangaea-X , makes use of the analogue environments from the training to test and develop technologies and operations for planetary exploration.

Testing new tools for lunar geology
Testing new tools for lunar geology

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