NASA's undersea mission submerges in the Atlantic

Jun 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 Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO). The crew of four began its mission in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., at 11:04 a.m. EDT Monday.

NEEMO sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in the Aquarius lab, 63 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The laboratory is located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. For NASA, Aquarius provides a convincing simulation to space exploration, and NEEMO crew members experience some of the same tasks and challenges under water that they would in space.

The NEEMO 16 mission will focus on three areas related to asteroid missions. The crew of aquanauts will investigate communication delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size.

The isolation and microgravity environment of the ocean floor allows the NEEMO 16 crew to study and test concepts for how future exploration of asteroids might be conducted. NASA's and the Space rocket, which currently are in development, will allow people to begin exploring beyond the boundaries of Earth's orbit. The first human mission to an asteroid is planned for 2025.

NEEMO 16 Commander Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger of NASA will be joined by astronaut Timothy Peake; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui; and Steven W. Squyres, Goldwin Smith professor of astronomy at Cornell University and chairman of the NASA Advisory Council. Squyres also was a member of NEEMO 15.

The NEEMO crew members will be chronicling their mission using several social media outlets, blogs and live video streams from the crews' helmets, the air lock and outside the habitat. For additional information on the mission and links to the various ways to connect with NEEMO, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo

Explore further: SpaceX close to figuring out rocket failure during launch

Related Stories

Astronomer Squyres becomes NASA aquanaut

Oct 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.

NASA Undersea Mission Begins

Aug 07, 2007

Three astronauts and a Constellation Program aerospace engineer began a 10-day NASA mission in the ocean depths off the Florida coast Aug. 6. They will test lunar exploration concepts and a suite of long-duration ...

Recommended for you

What is the newest planet?

7 hours ago

With astronomers discovering new planets and other celestial objects all the time, you may be wondering what the newest planet to be discovered is. Well, that depends on your frame of reference. If we are ...

Catching Earth at aphelion

7 hours ago

Do you feel a littleā€¦ distant today? The day after the 4th of July weekend brings with it the promise of barbecue leftovers and discount fireworks. It also sees our fair planet at aphelion, or its farthest ...

Opportunity's 7th Mars winter to include new study area

8 hours ago

Operators of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity plan to drive the rover into a valley this month where Opportunity will be active through the long-lived rover's seventh Martian winter, examining outcrops ...

User comments : 0

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.