The Aquarius research facility, a unique underwater residential laboratory located off the coast of Florida, is the site of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program. Situated sixty feet below the ocean’s surface, the facility’s structure, living arrangements, and logistical operations bear a close resemblance to those that crewmembers encounter aboard the International Space Station.
A NEEMO mission typically lasts 7 to 14 days. During a mission, crewmembers and research personnel conduct experiments, develop and refine strategies and protocols, and learn more about both the expected and unexpected challenges of spaceflight.
Most experiments conducted at the Aquarius facility focus on isolation, confinement, communications, telemedicine, and remote collaboration. Crewmembers also use weighted dive belts and tethering lines to simulate the challenges of performing tasks such as sample collection at multiple gravity levels and anchoring to an asteroid surface.