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NASA's Undersea Mission Submerges in the Atlantic



June 11, 2012

Joshua Buck 
Headquarters, Washington                                         
202-358-1100 
jbuck@xxxxxxxx 

Brandi Dean 
Johnson Space Center, Houston 
281-483-5111 
brandi.k.dean@xxxxxxxx 

RELEASE: 12-194

NASA'S UNDERSEA MISSION SUBMERGES IN THE ATLANTIC

HOUSTON -- An international crew of aquanauts is settling into its 
home on the ocean floor, where the team will spend 12 days testing 
concepts for a potential asteroid mission. The expedition is the 16th 
excursion of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO). 
The crew of four began its mission in the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Reef Base undersea research 
habitat off the coast of Key Largo, Fla., at 11:04 a.m. EDT Monday. 

NEEMO sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in 
the Aquarius lab, 63 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. 
The laboratory is located in the Florida Keys National Marine 
Sanctuary. For NASA, Aquarius provides a convincing simulation to 
space exploration, and NEEMO crew members experience some of the same 
tasks and challenges under water that they would in space. 

The NEEMO 16 mission will focus on three areas related to asteroid 
missions. The crew of aquanauts will investigate communication 
delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size. 

The isolation and microgravity environment of the ocean floor allows 
the NEEMO 16 crew to study and test concepts for how future 
exploration of asteroids might be conducted. NASA's Orion spacecraft 
and the Space Launch System rocket, which currently are in 
development, will allow people to begin exploring beyond the 
boundaries of Earth's orbit. The first human mission to an asteroid 
is planned for 2025. 

NEEMO 16 Commander Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger of NASA will be joined 
by European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake; Japan Aerospace 
Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui; and Steven W. Squyres, 
Goldwin Smith professor of astronomy at Cornell University and 
chairman of the NASA Advisory Council. Squyres also was a member of 
NEEMO 15. 

The NEEMO crew members will be chronicling their mission using several 
social media outlets, blogs and live video streams from the crews' 
helmets, the air lock and outside the habitat. For additional 
information on the mission and links to the various ways to connect 
with NEEMO, visit: 

http://www.nasa.gov/neemo 

The NEEMO mission is sponsored by NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems 
Program, which is made up of small projects aimed at rapidly 
developing and demonstrating prototype systems for future human 
spaceflight missions. Projects that are part of the program will help 
reduce risk, lower cost and test concepts for future human missions 
beyond Earth's orbit. 

For more information on Advanced Exploration Systems and Autonomous 
Mission Operations, visit: 

http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/aes/index.html 

	
-end-



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