Simulating Space Undersea: NASA Braves The Waves

NASA announced yesterday the launching of two new missions designed to train astronauts for work on the International Space Station and other spaceflight initiatives. However, instead of the flying, the crew will first be floating.

The "aquanauts", as described by a NASA press release, will live and work 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 5.4 nautical miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, as part of an initiative called NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations.) According to NEEMO project manager Bill Todd, “It is critical that we perform science applicable to NASA’s exploration goals in a high-fidelity space operational context. The extreme environment of life undersea is as close to being in space as possible.”

The crew will include astronauts from NASA, the ESA (European Space Agency), the CSA (Canadian Space Agency), and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.) They plan to experiment on habitability, a variety of health issues, tele-mentoring skills (used for learning via imagery when an expert cannot be physically present) and extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) that use the oceanic environment to simulate different types of low gravity.
NEEMO aquanauts rollin' in the deep.

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