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FEATURE
Introduction to NEEMO

03.28.06

NEEMO -- the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project -- sends groups of NASA employees and contractors to live in Aquarius for up to three weeks at a time. For NASA, Aquarius provides a convincing analog to space exploration, and NEEMO crewmembers experience some of the same tasks and challenges underwater as they would in space.

NEEMO-6 crewmembers leave the Aquarius habitat Image to right: Equipped with SCUBA gear, the NEEMO-6 crewmembers leave the Aquarius habitat to begin a two-hour underwater extravehicular activity. Credit: NASA

Like the environment of space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. Far beneath the waves near Key Largo, Fla., an underwater laboratory called Aquarius provides a safe harbor for scientists to live and work for weeks at a time.

Owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Aquarius operates 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is deployed next to deep coral reefs 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface.

The laboratory is most often used by marine biologists, for whom Aquarius acts as home base as they study the coral reef, the fish and aquatic plants that live nearby and composition of the surrounding seawater. Aquarius houses sophisticated lab equipment and computers, enabling scientists to perform research and process samples without leaving their underwater facilities.

+ Read more about Aquarius
+ Read more about the roles of NEEMO team personnel
+ Read more about previous NEEMO missions
+ Read more about underwater "spacewalking"

+ Back to main NEEMO page

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