NASA Declares Two New Upcoming Undersea Activities

First Posted: Jun 11, 2014 07:42 AM EDT

NASA is making a trip to the bottom of the ocean.  The space agency announced  two upcoming missions in which aquanauts will explore the ocean floors.

In a new announcement, NASA declared two upcoming undersea missions. The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) will have aquanauts exploring the ocean floors.

The NEEMO crews will live 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 5.4 nautical miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, in Florida International University's undersea research habitat, Aquarius Reef Base, along with two professional habitat technicians.

The new undersea missions will offer data similar to what is collated aboard the International space station where crew members engage in tasks in a constraining environment.

"It is both challenging and exciting for our astronaut crews to participate in these undersea missions in preparation for spaceflight," says Bill Todd, NEEMO project manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "It is critical that we perform science applicable to NASA's exploration goals in a high-fidelity space operational context. The extreme environment of life undersea is as close to being in space as possible."

The nine day NEEMO 18 mission starts July 21 and will be centered on studying behavioral health and performance as well as habitability.  Akihiko Hoshide, astronaut from the Japan Aerosapce Exploration Agency, will command NEEMO 18. Astronauts Jeanette Epps and Mark Vande Hei and Thomas Presquet of European Space Agency will join Hoshide in this mission.

Another mission that will last for seven days is NEEMO 19, which will start in September. The main focus of this mission is evaluating the tele-mentoring operations for ESA.

Telementoring is when the crew members are directed remotely by an expert to conduct a task. In this second mission NAS astronaut Randy Bresnik will command and will later be joined by Canadian Space Agency astronauts.

In the two missions the aquanauts will focus on evaluating man machine work system as well as EVA tools and techniques that will be used in exploring tasks at different levels of gravity.  They will also investigate new tools that will help astronauts study new procedures during flight.

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