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NEEMO 12 Mission Journal


Mission Day 9 – The Days are Swimming By!

Ever since we’ve reached the midpoint of this mission the days seem to be flying by at a much quicker pace than normal! Perhaps it’s because we are all coming to the realization that our underwater sea adventure will soon come to an end. In any event, we are all trying to savor each moment, for soon this will all be a memory relived only through our photos, videos, journals and personal recollections.

Last night a thunderstorm occurred right above us and the light from the lightning lit up the water around our habitat. The fish also seemed to be a little spooked and our best guess is that they on occasion not only saw the light from the lightning but also heard the thunder. Our ears also told us there were some heavy seas above us. When waves are significant (i.e., greater than 5 feet), our eardrums are sensitive enough to notice the differences in pressure created between the peaks and the troughs of the waves. It is similar to what your ears feel when driving up and then down a mountain with the exception that this feeling is synchronous with the up and down motion of each wave! In other words, we’re feeling these sensations every 5-6 seconds. In spite of these rough seas, we are safe, of course, because the habitat and all its support structures are firmly attached to the sea bed floor with additional mooring lines to our buoy.

This morning, our commander, Heide, had an exciting extravehicular activity (EVA) in her timeline. She went outside and was joined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Director of Oceans, Tim Keeney, and in virtual form over the Internet, by the Under Secretary of NOAA, Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, for the dedication of a geodesic marker that commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Aquarius habitat. Mr. Keeney came down in SCUBA gear and Heide went out in the yellow diving helmet for the event. One of only two such markers in the world that are under the sea, it indicates not only the latitude and longitude but also the depth of Aquarius. This also signifies the important partnership between NOAA, the National Underwater Research Center (NURC) and NASA which all have a vested interest in the exploration of extreme environments.

Later in the morning, Heide and José prepared for another EVA in which they donned a rig loaded with assorted weights. Topside divers configured their simulated lunar suit rigs in four different weight configurations. Heide and José traversed through a carefully designed obstacle course to evaluate walking, skipping, running, going up and down a 20-degree incline, climbing a ladder, and manipulating samples representing moon rocks. Tim did an awesome job inside the habitat timing and directing Heide and José through their individual runs. These experiments will help designers come up with an optimal next generation lunar space suit. We can get valuable design information from these NEEMO experiments.

Throughout the day the crew enjoyed doing several educational outreach broadcasts with schools literally coast to coast. The students asked question after question: how we prepared, were we ever afraid, how we talk in the water with the webcams, how we eat and sleep, if we get along and if we ever argue. Those are exactly the questions we will need to ask as we assemble and train crews for our return to the moon. It becomes especially important since the plan will be to establish a semi-permanent presence outpost. In preparation for these events and some VIP visitors, we made sure the habitat looked its best. Joe even pitched in and did the dishes.

Another educational outreach with schools was done with all four aquanauts shortly after José and Heide returned from their EVA. This being a day of educational outreach, still another outreach was done by José with the assistance of hab technician Dominic Landucci.

In the afternoon, it was Tim and Joe’s turn for an EVA and to traverse through the obstacle course. Their run was very similar to Heide’s and Jose’s morning run. Heide provided the IVA support while José worked on an educational outreach activity and other administrative tasks. Based on our timed results, there is no doubt that the speedster in this group is our own Dr. Joe Schmid.

Tomorrow morning we have our early morning dive scheduled for 5:30 a.m., so we will all be going to bed early tonight. We hope to tell you all about the early morning dive and the rest of tomorrow’s activities.

 05.16.07 - Mission Day 10: Last Day of Diving Ops
"Tim led the way out on our excursion lines into pitch black seas."
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 05.14.07 - Mission Days 6-8 Topside Report
"The weekend allowed some time for the crew to relax, talk to their families, and celebrate Mother’s Day."
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 05.13.07 - Mission Days 6 and 7: NEEMO 12, The Weekend Edition
"A side benefit to the dives is the amazing wildlife we encounter. We were visited by a big turtle affectionately called aquanaut number 7."
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 05.11.07 - Mission Day 5: New Experiments for Today: PUMA and the SRI Robot
"What a neat way to wake up every morning: literally hundreds of fish, some schooling, others darting at each other in an absolutely wonderful dance."
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 05.10.07 - Mission Day 4: Diving and Potting
"A side benefit to the dives is the amazing wildlife we encounter. We were visited by a big turtle affectionately called aquanaut number 7."
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 05.09.07 - Mission Day 3: Lots of varied work
"The aquanaut team really enjoyed seeing the students and their schools. Maybe some of them will someday join us here on Aquarius or even in space!"
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 05.08.07 - Mission Day 2: Time to go to work
"From the time we got out of our bunks, teeth brushed and had our morning cup of coffee, it was a steady pace to get ready for the work day."
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 05.07.07 - Mission Day 1: Moving Day
"In the style of our lunar excursion, we collected a 'contingency' piece of dead coral for later remote analysis and manipulation by our topside crew."
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 05.06.07 - NEEMO 12 Training Journal
"An intense training week for the 12th NEEMO mission has concluded successfully. ..."
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Editor: Amiko Kauderer
NASA Official: Brian Dunbar
Last Updated: May 21, 2007
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