Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Mission: September, 2006 Saturation
Today we had another exciting day in the Aquarius habitat. The activities started with the first team of aquanauts performing a coral science collection activity while simulating the conditions on the moon. We use a combination of the effects of water buoyancy, a special suit, and a lot of lead weights so that the team weighs the same here outside Aquarius as they would on the moon. Under these conditions they simulate the same sorts of activities that we expect to perform when NASA returns astronauts to the moon. The pictures of the coral were really neat to see. Just like during the hookah dives last night, the bright colors of the coral showed up in the pictures they took! The crew also used some underwater navigation equipment to accurately identify the location of the coral patches, as well as the location of the man-made items they found.
During the second dive of the day, the team finished construction of the LunaSea base and located a suitable location for tomorrow's final construction task. Remember from yesterday that LunaSea is a plastic structure designed to simulate constructing a communication tower on the moon. LunaSea is made up of 3 modules, a base, and a few pieces of additional support. Unlike on the moon, the sea floor near Aquarius has a lot of man-made items that we need to avoid. Some of these items are valuable sensors used to collect information about the conditions here near Aquarius. Tomorrow's task will involve raising the tower to its final height and flying the NEEMO 11 flag, which should occur before lunch!
During both of these dives, a team from a control room at the Johnson Space Center in Houston tracked the crew's movements and directed their activities. The team in Houston had a lot of suggestions during the dives, similar to how the mission control team has a lot of suggestions for the crews on the Space Shuttle or the International Space Station. This makes finding a good location for the construction challenging! Our friends were also able to watch and listen to activities on the webcam, so even way below the water surface they can keep up with what we are doing.
Two of the divers completed their hookah dives this evening. They had a chance to see the bright colors of the habitat under the dive light, just like the other two divers did last night! They were really excited to have the chance to dive at night. One of the team members was able to wave to his family who was watching the webcam from Houston!
Be sure to watch the final LunaSea construction activities tomorrow!
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