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NEEMO 10 Mission Journal

JSC2006-E-30822 -- Koichi Wakata and Dominic Landucci
Image above: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut/aquanaut Koichi Wakata (right) and Dominic Landucci smile for the camera through the main portal of their undersea habitat. Image credit: NASA

Monday, July 24, 2006
Mission Day 3
Crew Journal

Another wet and busy day on Aquarius. The goal of the morning dive was to map the Aquarius work area with a diver hand-held acoustic navigational device. It uses Doppler acoustic technology and a compass to map the bottom. The key is to start the mapping operation at the same place each time you gather data.

The second objective was to have the Exploration Planning Operations Center (ExPOC), simulating Houston Mission Control, drive the remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) behind the divers to collect simulated lunar samples. K2 and Drew were the divers on this operation. K2 started out with the navigational device and marked the man-made objects in the sandy work area and the limits of the eastern coral reef boundary. In the south section of the work area, the reef becomes more tongue-and-groove oriented, roughly north/south, so the divers were especially careful to manage the umbilicals over the corals. The conditions were good, but a slight ½-knot current to the south was enough to tug the neutral umbilicals, and make walking 'uphill' back to the Aquarius more challenging than downhill. In all, the team mapped almost 20 coral outcrops. If the data is good, it will be a useful baseline for future Aquarius surveys.

The team got the “Scuttle” ROV off to a good start by staging its umbilical at the high-pressure air tanks, away from the habitat work area. The sandy bottom was perfect for driving the Scuttle in bottom crawl mode. Karen N. even perfected a wheelie to hop over the umbilical when necessary!

The exercise portion completed early, so K2 and Drew took advantage of the time to scout out the western edge of the coral reef to prepare for the second part of the exercise. They were eyed the whole time by a quiet but wary-looking silver barracuda.

Lunchtime was a whirlwind of activity as the crew showered, gulped down bags of food, and readied for a one hour public affairs event with Japanese and German filmmakers. Much of the discussion was in Japanese (Otter was surprised at how well Koichi spoke the language!), but the team was able to rave about the unique experience and the NASA/NOAA cooperation that makes it happen.

The afternoon exercise was a physical workout for the divers and a mental dance for the inside tender (IV). Koichi and Karen were outfitted in the moon simulation PLSS rigs and sent out to the sand patch to find ten marked and flagged weights - in order! The IV, K2, kept track of the location of the divers with transponders attached to their rigs (the 'sending' part of the transponder is located above the Aquarius' southeast corner) and a computer program. When the team found a marker out of order, she marked the location so that she could send them back when it was in the right sequence. Aside from a little dancing with umbilicals, the team found nine of the ten markers with no trouble in the time allotted.

The second part of their task was the workout! The divers wore the Navy Mark 12 coverall suits, which have weights distributed on your hips, thighs, and shin areas. In order to test different spacesuit weights, the divers tried on six different weight distributions - in a ten-minute endurance test! The test included four laps of the 20-foot course, shoveling 15 shovelfuls of sand, placing ten weights in and out of stacked milk cartons and climbing a ladder. Karen and Koichi were great sports and powered through the task without complaint. Mike Gernhardt assured us all that our efforts would be integral to the success of the next spacesuit!

Drew and K2 took advantage of some timelined hookah dive time to find out which fish visit the Aquarius at night. There’s nothing like the view of the Aquarius at night when you’re on your own with a mask and regulator, looking back at this odd steel behemoth looming over you, lights skewed like a UFO. Tonight two sea turtles flew slowly through the lights, banking up towards the surface when they saw the strange black-suited diver with the light laser. The grates glow with blue florescent copepods, fish come out of nowhere, and Stella and Lucy take on a whole new aura as they float back and forth in front of the bedroom viewport. You’re back on the other side of the aquarium!

Monday, July 24, 2006
Mission Day 3
Topside Report

NEEMO 10 mission day 3 opened with the crew exercising some scenarios representative of the things we may do when we return to the moon. We envision that one of the first tasks for a crew returning to the moon to live will be to survey and map the immediate area around their new home. While satellite maps of the landing site will certainly be available, the detailed maps they develop in situ can then be used by scientists and the Mission Control Center personnel to plan the extravehicular activities for the crew as they work. Similarly, we started this mission with general bathymetric maps of the ocean floor near Aquarius. Today our crew used a navigational device to record the coordinates of landmarks of interest within a 400-foot radius of Aquarius. This, along with detailed bathymetrical data we've previously obtained of the ocean floor, will allow us to generate a much more detailed map. The detailed map is required to plan our ROV (rover robot) activities later in the mission, among other things.

The aquanaut tracking system is a centerpiece of our exploration analog activities. When we go back to the moon to stay, our astronauts will sometimes be going on lengthy excursions away from their base. Obviously for their own safety, as well as for situational awareness for the Mission Control team in Houston, it will be beneficial to know where they are. Think of an air traffic controller seeing a screen showing each airplane in the area - its distance away, its bearing (direction from the tower), and a little track of dots (called "breadcrumbs") showing where it has been. This is how our aquanaut tracking system works. It has a transceiver mounted above Aquarius which sends ultrasonic signals out across the reef. The aquanauts and/or ROV are outfitted with a transponder. When the transponder gets interrogated by the incoming signal from the transceiver, it replies with identifying information. Thus our mission controllers in the Exploration Planning and Operations Center (ExPOC) and crewmembers inside the habitat know where each aquanaut and the ROV are with respect to the habitat, as well as where they've been.

     - NEEMO 10 Topside Team

 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 7
"Today the NEEMO 10 mission ended successfully with 'splashup' at about 9:48 a.m. EDT."
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 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 6
"A 'tag-up' with the International Space Station astronauts was the highlight of the day. "
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 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 5
"Last night was a time for new life on the reef, as clouds of plankton, brine shrimp and fish eggs rained down in front of the viewports all evening."
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 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 4
"The aquanauts experienced a heavy workload during the exercise, feeling like a cross between Godzilla and a professional linebacker."
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 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 2
"Today’s simulated exploration activities were targeted for a lunar gravity environment."
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 NEEMO 10 Mission Journal Number 1
"NEEMO 10 is splashed down and under way!"
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 NEEMO 10 Training Journal
"It’s about the size of a big motor home, and the top grates look like a landing deck above the Yellow Submarine."
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