International team starts sea-based asteroid drills

June 12, 2012
This NASA file image shows a NEEMO 14 aquanaut practicing shoveling underwater, just as an astronaut would shovel to collect soil samples on another planet at the Aquarius lab. An international team of aquanauts has begun training at a lab deep in the Atlantic Ocean for an eventual visit to an asteroid, NASA said.

An international team of aquanauts has begun training at a lab deep in the Atlantic Ocean for an eventual visit to an asteroid, NASA said.

The scientists, astronauts and engineers making up the 16th excursion of NASA's Mission Operations (NEEMO) come from the United States and the space agencies of Japan and Europe.

They began their latest 12-day mission on Monday at the Aquarius lab, off the coast of Florida, which provides an environment similar to what it would be like to navigate near-weightless on an asteroid.

"Aquarius provides a convincing simulation to , and NEEMO crew members experience some of the same tasks and challenges under water that they would in space," NASA said in a statement.

The ocean-floor outpost is located three miles (4.5 kilometers) off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, where it has provided lodging and life support systems for underwater scientists since 1993.

NASA has been sending astronauts to the undersea lab 63 feet (19 meters) down for weeks-long space training missions since 2001.

The latest effort is a new push to get ready for an asteroid trip that President has said could happen by 2025.

The commander of the mission is NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger.

The crew includes astronaut Timothy Peake of Britain, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui and Steven Squyres who is professor of astronomy at Cornell University and chairman of the NASA Advisory Council.

The last NEEMO expedition was in October 2011.

Explore further: NASA's undersea mission submerges in the Atlantic

Related Stories

NASA's undersea mission submerges in the Atlantic

June 12, 2012

An international crew of aquanauts is settling into its home on the ocean floor, where the team will spend 12 days testing concepts for a potential asteroid mission. The expedition is the 16th excursion of the NASA Extreme ...

NASA evacuates astronauts from deep-sea training

October 26, 2011

NASA evacuated a crew of astronauts Wednesday from an underwater lab off the coast of Florida where they were training for a trip to an asteroid, due to the approach of Hurricane Rina.

Astronomer Squyres becomes NASA aquanaut

October 21, 2011

Cornell professor of astronomy Steven Squyres, the lead scientist for NASA's Rover mission to Mars, has just taken the plunge as a NASA aquanaut.

Jet packs rule, say deep-sea astronauts

October 25, 2011

Battery-powered jet packs are definitely the best part of tooling around on the ocean floor in practice drills for an eventual visit to an asteroid, an international crew of astronauts said Monday.

Recommended for you

Swiss firm acquires Mars One private project

December 2, 2016

A British-Dutch project aiming to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018 announced Friday that the shareholders of a Swiss financial services company have agreed a takeover bid.

Bethlehem star may not be a star after all

December 2, 2016

It is the nature of astronomers and astrophysicists to look up at the stars with wonder, searching for answers to the still-unsolved mysteries of the universe. The Star of Bethlehem, and its origin, has been one of those ...

Tangled threads weave through cosmic oddity

December 1, 2016

New observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed the intricate structure of the galaxy NGC 4696 in greater detail than ever before. The elliptical galaxy is a beautiful cosmic oddity with a bright core ...

Could there be life in Pluto's ocean?

December 1, 2016

Pluto is thought to possess a subsurface ocean, which is not so much a sign of water as it is a tremendous clue that other dwarf planets in deep space also may contain similarly exotic oceans, naturally leading to the question ...

Embryonic cluster galaxy immersed in giant cloud of cold gas

December 1, 2016

Astronomers studying a cluster of still-forming protogalaxies seen as they were more than 10 billion years ago have found that a giant galaxy in the center of the cluster is forming from a surprisingly-dense soup of molecular ...

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.