Francesco Sauro is a National Geographic explorer, geologist and speleologist. He conducts research and leads training on planetary geology at the European Space Agency (ESA), with a peculiar interest in caves and subsurface exploration. Having over 20 years of caving experience, Sauro has explored tens of kilometers of caves in any different lithology on Earth, including ancient quartzite caves systems in South America, deep ice moulins in the Alps and Greenland and lava tubes in Iceland and Canary Islands.
He has led over 40 expeditions in several countries performing more than 100 kilometers of new cave surveys and descending some of the most challenging abysses on Earth. Since 2015, Sauro has served as technical director of the courses CAVES and PANGAEA organized by ESA for training astronauts in exploration human behavior and planetary geology. He has led training for astronauts from ESA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Roscosmos, and the Canadian Space Agency.
In 2014, Sauro won the Rolex Award for Enterprise for an exploration project in the Guyana highlands of South America. In 2021 he became president of La Venta, a nonprofit association dedicated to the geographical exploration and protection of the subsurface of the planet. About 40 papers on his research and explorations have been published in peer-reviewed scientific magazines.