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Humans Living Under the Sea

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Aquarius on the dock before it was towed out to sea and placed in its current position at Conch Reef.
Aquarius on the dock before it was towed out to sea and placed in its current position at Conch Reef.
Credit: NASA
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Go ahead and look twice or click your heels three times; you've read the headline right. There is no place like home, but sometimes the NASA Extreme Environment Misson Operations (NEEMO), must do what it must, even if it entails humans living aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aquarius Underwater Laboratory (NOAA).

Aquarius Underwater Laboratory is off the Florida coast, 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface. It provides a safe harbor for scientists to live. From April 3 to 20, three NASA astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor are living and working under the ocean to test space medicine concepts and moon-walking techniques.

In the Aquarius, are lab equipment and computers that enables scientists to perform research and process samples without leaving their underwater facilities. One example of research is to develop long distance medical care procedures, which may be used to respond to health emergencies on intergalactic space stations or on manned missions. For instance, on March 26, 2006, the astronauts learned about using small robots with small cameras attached that can be inserted into the abdomen to help surgeons see what they are doing as they perform keyhole surgery.

While astronauts appreciate the beauty and mystery of the undersea world and undergo rigorous training, they know that under the sea is an alien, and often hostile environment, as well as an analog to life in outer space.

More imagery, journals, press release and details: more NEEMO, please.