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The highlands of central-eastern Sardinia known as the Supramonte comprise one of the largest karst areas on the island: sharp limestone cliffs, lush canyons, mysterious caves and underground rivers. It is 35,000 hectares (135 square miles) of terrain, much of which is uninhabited and barely explored. Active scientific exploration of the caves started in the 1950s, and they have become a boon to scientists, sport spelunkers, and now, interestingly, the ESA, the European Space Agency, which uses some of them as a training site for astronauts.

The 2012 summer training session for a group of ESA astronauts has...

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photo credit: ESA-V.Crobu

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