NEEMO

NEEMO 1

From October 22 to 28, 2001

Larger image of the Aquarius underwater habitat and laboratory

The Aquarius underwater habitat and laboratory (Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington)

The International Space Station (ISS) can be seen in Canada's night sky and also from most parts of the world. The station provides an opportunity for Canadians to participate in space research. There is a station in "inner space," that is, underwater, called Aquarius, the world's only undersea laboratory dedicated to marine science and education. Aquarius provides an environment remarkably similar to that onboard the station, and is similar in size to the modules of the station. Aquanauts coordinate operations remotely through the mission control centre, located 4.5 km away in Key Largo, and experiments are conducted underwater using spacewalk techniques.

The October 2001 mission in Aquarius includes three National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts and one astronaut training specialist. On the seven-day mission the project team will live underwater using Aquarius as an analogue for the space environment, that is, working and training under conditions that are surprisingly similar to those in space and having many similar challenges.

The mission rationale is based on the similarity of the Aquarius environment to that aboard the ISS. The Aquarius habitat is similar in size to modules of the station. Aquanauts coordinate operations remotely through the mission control centre in Key Largo. Experiments guided by mission control are conducted underwater using techniques similar to those used for spacewalks.

Aquanauts are isolated from the outside world for the duration of their mission because saturation diving techniques require lengthy decompression before surfacing. Isolation in an extreme environment is important for studies on behaviour and physiology. In particular, the NASA Aquarius experience will be used to help build crew–mission control communication techniques, and leadership and interpersonal skills.

Participants

Back, left to right: Bill Todd, Monica Schultz, Mike Gernhardt (Mike G), Dave Williams, Mike Lopez-Alegria (LA), Mark Reagan - Front, left to right: Jean-Marc Comtois, Karl Shreeves (PADI Instructor) (Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Aquanaut Team:

  • Dave Williams, Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut
  • Bill Todd, Space Flight Training
  • Mike Gernhardt, NASA Astronaut
  • Mike Lopez-Alegria, NASA Astronaut
  • Mark Hulsbeck, National Undersea Research Center (NURC)
  • Ryan W. Snow, Marine Specialist, NURC

Topside Support Team:

  • Dr. Jean-Marc Comtois, Director of Operational Space Medicine
    CSA
  • Marc Reagan, Station Training Lead
    NASA Johnson Space Center
  • Monika K. Schultz, Engineer
    United Space Alliance

Mission Physician:

  • Rod Hagerman D.O.

Partners

  • NURC
  • UNCW (The University of North Carolina at Wilmington)
  • NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
  • NURP (National Undersea Research Program)