[Deepsea] NASA using NOAA undersea lab to train for exploration

Matt MattWriter at AOL.com
Sat Sep 3 16:57:40 EST 2005

This is not technically deepsea or biology, but an interesting example
of how space and undersea exploration are mutally supportive.

Matt Bille

RELEASE: 05-241

     NASA is sending three astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor to test
new space medicine concepts and extravehicular techniques in a unique
underwater laboratory off the Florida coast.
NASA astronaut Lee Morin leads the crew on an 18-day undersea mission
Oct. 3 to 20 aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory.
Astronauts Nicole Stott and Ron Garan, and Dr. Tim Broderick of the
University of Cincinnati, round out the crew. Canadian astronaut Chris
Hadfield is a backup crew member and Canadian physician-astronaut Dave
Williams is a science investigator. Jim Buckley and Joe Marsh of the
University of North Carolina at Wilmington will provide engineering
Long-distance health care, like tele-monitoring and tele-robotic
surgery, could be keys to maintaining the wellness of spacefarers and
responding to medical emergencies on the International Space Station,
the moon or Mars. Techniques will be tested on a patient simulator
during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) project.
Undersea extravehicular activities, imitating moon walks, will test
concepts for lunar mobility.  Construction of an underwater structure,
with the help of a remotely operated vehicle, will also simulate lunar
The work will be coordinated and monitored at NASA's Johnson Space
Center (JSC), Houston. JSC's Exploration Planning Operations Center is
testing and evaluating the new techniques for meeting operational
challenges such as the two-second communications delay between Earth
and the moon.
"This mission will be the longest NEEMO and Aquarius mission. Our
partnerships with other agencies and countries should provide a
treasure chest of useful medical and exploration operations knowledge,"
said NEEMO Project Manager Bill Todd.
NEEMO 9 will demonstrate and evaluate innovative technologies and
procedures for remote surgery. Similar in size to the Space Station's
living quarters, Aquarius is the world's only permanent underwater
habitat and research laboratory. The 45-foot long, 13-foot diameter
complex is three miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National
Marine Sanctuary. It rests about 62 feet beneath the surface. A buoy on
the surface provides and outlet for power, life support and
communications capabilities for Aquarius. A shore-based mission control
center in Florida monitors the habitat and crew.
Aquarius is owned and funded by NOAA, and it is operated by the
University of North Carolina at Wilmington. The NEEMO missions are a
cooperative project among NASA, NOAA and the university.

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