Finding NEEMO

July 17, 2014
Neemo aquanauts descending to their base 20 m under the sea. During a 12-day mission in 2012, ESA astronaut Tim Peake and six crewmates lived in cramped conditions, performed ‘waterwalks’ and solved problems as a team. The mission tested equipment and techniques for future space exploration. Credit: ESA–H. Stevenin

NEEMO – NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations – trains astronauts for life in space. Living and working in an underwater base is similar to being on a space station. This year, NASA has two NEEMO missions planned with three ESA astronauts and a trainer taking part.

NEEMO's off Florida acts as makeshift a space base for to make regular 'waterwalks' in full scuba gear. Both underwater missions plan sorties for the astronauts to simulate spacewalks. Different gravity levels will test tools that could be used when humans land on the Moon, Mars or even asteroids.

The waterwalks will also test ways of communicating between control and the astronauts during the excursions.

The 18th underwater mission will see ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet take part in a nine-day mission, starting his underwater session on 21 July under the command of Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, along with NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps and Mark Vande Hei. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli is also onsite for crew communications, functioning as capsule communicator for 'ground control'. Training started on 14 July.

The Aquarius underwater base where equipment and techniques are tested for future space exploration. Credit: ESA–H. Stevenin

The 19th mission starts its seven-day underwater adventure on 8 September. ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be joined by Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen and ESA astronaut trainer and spacewalk instructor Hervé Stevenin under the leadership of NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik.

This mission will focus on wearable computers and remotely monitoring the crew, and will test an ESA voice-command 'mobiPV' prototype using smartphones, tablets and screen glasses. This approach will be used on Andreas' mission next year.

ESA astronaut trainer Hervé Stevenin at NEEMO base. Credit: ESA–Jason Poffenberger


NEEMO 18 astronaut crew from left to right: Japanese commander Aki Hoshide NASA astronauts, Mark Vande Hei, Jeanette Epps, ESA astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Paolo Nespoli. Credit: ESA

Explore further: Tim gets his feet wet

Related Stories

Tim gets his feet wet

April 18, 2012

ESA astronaut Timothy Peake will soon dive to the bottom of the sea to learn more about exploring space. A permanent underwater base almost 20 m below the waves off the coast of Florida will be Tim’s home for more than ...

Underwater astronaut on the Moon

September 12, 2013

ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and ESA astronaut instructor Hervé Stevenin slipped into the roles of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin last week for an underwater simulation of the historic mission to the Moon.

Seatest underwater adventure

October 1, 2013

ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet returned from Florida last week after taking part in Seatest – NASA's underwater testbed for working in space.

ESA astronauts return to NEEMO underwater habitat

June 11, 2014

ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet spent five days last year as part of NASA's underwater project to test technologies that could be used in future space missions – and now they will return to the seas this ...

NASA announces two upcoming undersea missions

June 11, 2014

NASA is returning to the bottom of the ocean. Twice this summer, aquanauts participating in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) will conduct activities on the ocean floor that will inform future International ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers detect the farthest galaxy yet with Keck telescope

September 4, 2015

A team of Caltech researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. In an article published August 28, 2015 in Astrophysical ...

"Hedgehog" robots hop, tumble in microgravity

September 4, 2015

Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can't operate upside-down. But ...

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.