NASA Announces Next Undersea Exploration Mission Dates and Crew

July 25, 2007

NASA will send three astronauts and a Constellation Program aerospace engineer into the ocean depths off the Florida coast from Aug. 6 to 15. They will test lunar exploration concepts and a suite of medical objectives for long-duration spaceflight.

NASA veteran space flyer and aquanaut Nicholas Patrick will lead the 10-day undersea mission aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aquarius Underwater Laboratory. NASA astronaut Richard Arnold, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and systems integration engineer Christopher Gerty complete the crew.

During the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 13 (NEEMO 13), the crew will conduct a variety of undersea "moon walks." They will test concepts for future lunar exploration using advanced navigation and communication equipment.

"This crew will work much more independently from the mission control team than on previous missions," said NEEMO Project Manager Bill Todd of the United Space Alliance at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"This autonomous mode of operation will encourage the crew to make real-time decisions about daily operations similar to what we think will be necessary for lunar and Mars missions. The idea is to show how procedures and training for future missions can be adapted, considering the reduced direct communication with mission control those crews will encounter," Todd said.

During the extended undersea simulated moon walks, the crew will construct a communications tower, practice techniques for lunar sample collection and manipulation, and perform a series of tasks investigating future spacesuit design. The crew also will participate in research designed to answer questions on the physiology and human behavior aspects of living in extreme environments.

Jim Buckley and Larry Ward of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington will provide engineering support for the submerged habitat. The university operates Aquarius on behalf of NOAA as part of NOAA's Undersea Research Program. The NEEMO missions are a cooperative project among NASA, NOAA and the university.

This will be the 13th NEEMO undersea mission. NASA Flight Surgeon Sean Roden will serve as a backup crew member.

Similar in size to the International Space Station's living quarters, Aquarius is the world's only permanent underwater habitat and laboratory. The 45-foot-long, 13-foot diameter complex is three miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, about 62 feet beneath the surface. A surface buoy provides connections for power, life support and communications. A shore-based control center monitors the habitat and crew.

For more information about NEEMO and Aquarius, including a virtual dive to the underwater habitat, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo

Source: NASA

Explore further: CubeSat to create a map of water ice on the moon

Related Stories

Commercial Cygnus freighter arrives at Kennedy

August 13, 2015

A commercial Cygnus cargo freighter has just arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida to begin intensive processing for a critical mission to deliver some four tons of science experiments and supplies to the International ...

Recommended for you

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

Dawn spacecraft sends sharper scenes from Ceres

August 25, 2015

The closest-yet views of Ceres, delivered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, show the small world's features in unprecedented detail, including Ceres' tall, conical mountain; crater formation features and narrow, braided fractures.

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.