Texas Students Explore Caves on Earth to Learn About Caves on the Moon

students in hard hats in a cave smile at the camera

Lunar Caves Analog Test Sites (LCATS) is a Space-STEM learning curriculum that engages a pipeline of motivated middle and high school students and has them assisting aerospace professionals in solving real-world space exploration technology development challenges through investigations of science experiments, space exploration mission operations, technology development, and habitability system architectures.

In the words of Co-founder Joules Webb, Associate Director of the Prefreshman Engineering Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, LCATS gives students the chance “to be researchers, engineers and to work with scientists, researchers, and engineers on a project that’s meaningful and is an analog to a NASA space mission.”

One of those real-world scientists working with the students is Edward Patrick, a Senior Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.  He reports that “The LCATS program seems like the real world. Kids can learn skills, they can become interested in things like math, science, engineering…[it is] modeled after what NASA does…everybody has to work together. It’s a cast of thousands that makes these space missions work.”

A new video about the program shows the first cohort of students working in the lab and in the field, deploying student-built instruments at a local cave.