Future astronauts experience exploring new worlds

Lanzarote stands in for an alien planet as Leicester scientist helps train ESA astronauts.

Our space scientists have been helping the next generation of astronauts get to grips with exploring the Moon and planets like Mars.

PANGAEA is a specialist training course for European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts to help prepare them for future human exploration on planetary missions. It is the first step in preparing European astronauts to become planetary explorers on missions to other planets.

In November 2017, John Holt of the University of Leicester, was involved with the PANGAEA field testing of the SPLIT instrument (Small Planetary Linear Impulse Tool), which is being developed in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. As part of the work, John provided instrument familiarisation training to Dr Matthias Maurer, one of the astronauts at the European Astronaut Centre. You can read about the SPLIT instrument in John’s blog released by the ESA this week.

ESA has released a video of the exercise, so you can now watch the Pangaea-X participants explore the landscape of Lanzarote (an analogue environment) in the Canary Islands, Spain, working with the latest technologies in instrumentation, navigation, remote sensing, 3D imaging and geoscience equipment, as well as testing operational concepts for surface missions where astronauts and robots work together.

Watch the video in full:

Here at the University of Leicester, we like to get our students involved with research like SPLIT and PANGAEA too. Assisting John in the field work is PhD student, Adam Parkes Bowen who is working with John at the University of Leicester in developing ways of conducting geology on Mars.