NASA is not just about exploring outer space: The space agency has announced an underwater endeavor that will send two astronauts into the ocean off Florida’s east coast this month to test exploration concepts and learn more about working in hostile environments.
The 14th expedition of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, begins May 10. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield will lead the NASA team on a two-week undersea mission aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory near Key Largo.
Joining Hadfield will be NASA astronaut and flight surgeon Thomas Marshburn, Lunar Electric Rover Deputy Project Manager Andrew Abercromby and research scientist Steve Chappell.
During NEEMO 14, the ocean floor will simulate aspects of another planet’s surface and a low-gravity environment. The crew will live aboard the underwater laboratory, venture out on simulated spacewalks, operate the crane and maneuver the vehicles much like explorers would in setting up a habitat on another planet. As the aquanauts interact with these developing technologies, they will provide information and feedback to NASA engineers.
The crew will also perform life-science experiments focused on human behavior, performance and physiology. The mission also includes studying autonomous crew work.