Day 14 marks the end of the NEEMO 14 mission, as the aquanauts arrive safely back to the surface, on a beautiful, sunny morning in Key Largo.
On mission day 13, the NEEMO crew began "deco" or decompression, a 15-hour process that gradually reduces the atmospheric pressure inside the habitat. The aquanauts also took the last set of blood draws to support research on nutrition and the immune system, to determine the effects of a high-oxygen environment; past effects observed in NEEMO missions are similar to those observed in long-duration spaceflight.
Mission day 12 included performing a "sim case," in other words, a simulation in which the NEEMO crew has to react to an unexpected situation for which they were not previously trained. In this "sim case," NEEMO aquanauts had to rescue an injured crew member during their exploration extravehicular activity (EVA).
The NEEMO topside team explains geoscience studies underway during the mission, in which planetary scientists use the coral surface as an analog environment to a planetary surface. They study how samples are collected, documented, and stored, and test robotic collection tools and capabilities for future space exploration.
The NEEMO crew is wrapping up their extravehicular activities (EVAs) on days 9 and 10 of the mission. At the same time, they're taking part in health and performance research studies, which gather data on the effects on aquanauts of living in the closed environment of Aquarius, as a comparison to the experience of astronauts aboard the space shuttle and the International Space Station.
Communication between the topside team and Aquarius goes to a 20-minute delay on Day 8, to simulate the time it would take on a mission to Mars. The team gives an overview of the SPIFe software, a tool designed for planning activities in missions operation environments.
The topside team supporting NEEMO 14 give some information and diagrams of communications infrastructure for Aquarius, as compared to the infrastructure for lunar missions. They're testing all systems and including redundancy for analog missions on Earth, to better prepare for communications issues in space.
The NEEMO 14 team are very busy on Day 5, going through several sets of extravehicular activities (EVAs). The aquanauts are wearing ETags, a pioneering technology that allows their medical data to be monitored remotely from the topside Mission Control Center.
During Days 3 and 4, the NEEMO 14 topside team encounter some spotty weather. The EVAs, using "mock-ups" of tools, modules and vehicles used for spaceflight, go more smoothly than Day 2.
It's Day 2 of the NEEMO 14 mission, and aquanauts are performing exploration tasks that test the effects of CG (Center of Gravity) and suit weight in simulated lunar gravity.
The NEEMO 14 mission is underway, and the crew took some team photos, unpacked, and began their afternoon EVAs.
The NEEMO 14 "Topside" team is hard at work in the Mobile Mission Control Center with last-minute details on procedures, timelines and shore-based training.