May 05, 2010

Jenna C. Maddix
Johnson Space Center, Houston


HOUSTON – NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will once again participate in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission. This is the 14th expedition since October 2001. During the mission, set for May 10-23, in the ocean depths off Florida’s east coast, NEEMO 14 will connect with schools in Texas, South Dakota, New York, California, Washington and North Carolina.

NEEMO 14 will use the ocean floor to simulate aspects of another planet’s surface in a low- gravity environment. The mission is designed to gain a better understanding of how an astronaut crew might interact with equipment like the rover, lander and robotic arms. The mission will test exploration concepts and increase understanding about working in a treacherous environment.

Canadian Space Agency astronaut and veteran spacewalker Chris A. Hadfield will lead the NASA team on the 14-day undersea mission aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, near Key Largo.

Astronaut Dr. Thomas Marshburn, Lunar Electric Rover Deputy Project Manager Andrew Abercromby and Dr. Steve Chappell, a research scientist with Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering of Houston, are also assigned to the NEEMO 14 mission.

The Johnson Space Center education team is collaborating with NEEMO, to enhance the underwater experience for students and educators across the country with the following events:

On Tuesday, May 11, teachers in the Middle School Aerospace Scholars program have been selected, along with their students, to participate with NASA’s Digital Learning Network in an event to navigate a rover along a predetermined course on the ocean floor. Students will connect with the DLN to navigate someone driving the rover. Students will record the distance and time the rover travels, noting landmarks such as coral or rocks on the path so they can map the ocean floor where the rover travelled.

As a follow-up classroom activity, students will create a map of the ocean floor based on the area the rover travelled, including location of landmarks.

• Tuesday, May 11
o 12:30-1:30 p.m.--Odyssey Academy, Bryan, Texas
o 1:30-2:30 p.m.--Richland Middle, Richland Hills, Texas
o 2:30-3:30 p.m.--Milstead Middle, Pasadena, Texas

The Digital Learning Network will support five additional events on May 17 and 18 during the Aquarius mission. Each hour-long event will be structured to include an overview of the mission, a live tour of the Aquarius habitat and a question-and-answer session for students.

• Monday, May 17
o 8:30-9:30 a.m.--Ronnie Crownover Middle, Crownover, Texas, Stephen F. Austin Middle, Bryan, Texas, and Space Center Intermediate, Houston.
o 9:30-10:30 a.m.--McMillan Junior High, Wylie, Texas, Travis Elementary, Baytown, Texas, NYC PS 56 Queens-Harry Eichler School, Richmand Hill, N.Y., and Brunson Elementary, Winston-Salem, N.C.
o 2:00-3:00 p.m.--Magnolia High, Magnolia, Texas, Northwest High, Justin, Texas and Kadoka Middle, Kadoka, S.D.
o 3:00-4:00--Dunbar Middle, Lubbock, Texas, Cole Middle School, Lancaster, Calif., and Key Peninsula, Lake Bay, Wash.

• Tuesday, May 18
o 8:30-9:30 a.m.--Odyssey Academy, Bryan, Texas, Richland Middle, Richland Hills, Texas, and Milstead Middle, Pasadena, Texas.

Similar in size to the International Space Station's living quarters, Aquarius is the world's only permanent underwater habitat and laboratory. The 45-foot-long, 13-foot-diameter complex is three miles off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, about 62 feet beneath the surface. A surface buoy provides connections for power, life support and communications. A shore-based control center monitors the habitat and crew.

For more information about NEEMO and Aquarius, visit:

Through the MAS program, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s educational programs. It is directly tied to the agency's major education goal of attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions.

For more information about Middle School Aerospace Scholars, visit:

For more information about NASA's education programs, visit: