European Space Agency’s German astronaut Alexander Gerst (L) and French aerospace engineer, pilot, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet (R) speak near the Orion capsule equipment for the Artemis II mission, inside the Operations and Checkout Building (O&C) at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on August 28, 2022. - Fifty years after the last Apollo mission, the Artemis program is poised to take up the baton of lunar exploration with a test launch on August 29 of NASA's most powerful rocket ever. It will propel the Orion crew capsule into orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft will remain in space for 42 days before returning to Earth. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

Astronaut Alexander Gerst has started a multi-week training program with Stephanie Wilson from the US space agency Nasa to prepare them for a possible moon mission.

The program includes the selection of a suitable landing site for the “Artemis” mission and the planning of work on the lunar surface, as announced by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The theoretical and practical training takes them to several European countries. They should therefore learn how to work scientifically in lunar or Mars-like terrain, how to take rock samples there or transmit geological findings to the colleagues who stayed behind on Earth.

According to Esa, the course starts this week in the Bletterbach Gorge in the Italian Dolomites. Here the geology of Mars and asteroids is on the curriculum. From September 12th to 17th, Gerst and Wilson are supposed to work in Nördlinger Ries, which is mainly located in Bavaria and partly in Baden-Württemberg.

In November, on the Atlantic island of Lanzarote, which belongs to Spain, they are to deal with the interaction between volcanic activity and water – “two key factors in the search for life”, according to ESA.

The US space agency Nasa had twice canceled an unmanned launch as part of the “Artemis” moon mission in the past few days, citing technical problems. It is not yet clear who will fly on the manned “Artemis” mission – which is now planned for 2025 at the earliest.