(PhysOrg.com) -- NEEMO 15 Commander Shannon Walker (NASA) and fellow aquanaut David Saint-Jacques (Canadian Space Agency) use a small telescoping boom as a means of translating across a simulated asteroid surface. Each end of the small boom can be anchored to the surface by either magnets or tethers and the astronauts can traverse the surface by alternating anchor points. Various translation techniques are being tested during this 13-day NEEMO mission.
NEEMO, which stands for NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, is one facet of NASA's Analog and Field Testing Missions. As NASA plans to expand human spaceflight and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit, astronauts are being trained to meet these challenges. Future destinations may include the moon, near Earth asteroids and Mars and its moons.
To prepare for the challenge of exploring these destinations in space, NASA conducts missions here on Earth, in remote locations that have physical similarities to extreme space environments.
Explore further: Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery