WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) — NASA says it will send two astronauts to the Atlantic Ocean’s floor off Florida’s east coast to learn more about such environments.
Officials said the 14th expedition of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations will begin May 10.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will lead the NASA team on a 14-day undersea mission aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory near Key Largo, Fla. Aquarius is owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and operated by the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
Joining Hadfield will be NASA astronaut and flight surgeon Thomas Marshburn, Lunar Electric Rover Deputy Project Manager Andrew Abercromby and Steve Chappell, a research scientist. Abercromby and Chappell work for Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering of Houston.
During NEEMO 14, the ocean floor will simulate aspects of another planet’s surface and a low-gravity environment, the space agency said. In October, a team of aquanauts set the stage for NEEMO 14 by placing mockups near Aquarius of a lander, rover and small crane that simulates a robotic arm.
“The NEEMO 14 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,” NASA said in a statement. “As the aquanauts interact with these developing technologies, they will provide information and feedback to NASA engineers.”
More information is available at http://www.nasa.gov/neemo.
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