NEEMO Mission Day 6 - Autonomous Operations Begin

Status Report From: NEEMO
Posted: Monday, August 13, 2007


Today we began autonomous operations, as a lunar habitat on the moon or Mars will one day operate. We have been working with built-in communication delays and limited direction from the ground. We have been given several prioritized tasks to complete over the next few days but have been left to our own to develop and implement the plan to get the tasks done. We are learning very quickly about the challenges autonomy brings, as we are very used to relying on very smart people on the ground to help us solve our problems. Down here at 20 meters below sea level, we really feel like we are on our own.

Our day started out supporting science back on Earth. Satoshi had us all up bright and early, which had the entire crew anticipating a traditional, home-cooked Japanese breakfast. Much to our chagrin, the only thing he had prepared for us was a blood draw. Doctors back at Johnson Space Center are very interested in the similar blood changes that occur on orbit and during saturation diving.

On the moon and Mars, we will need to build structures to allow astronauts on foot or in rovers to explore farther and farther away from their habitat. To simulate this, one of our major objectives this week is to build a communications relay tower at a prescribed distance from Aquarius. Today we assembled several components of our tower (called "Luna Sea") and surveyed a location that we believe fits all the criteria established by mission control. Tomorrow we will finish building the components of the tower and deliver them to our chosen construction site. We also did a field survey, marking points of interest than can be used to track the health of the reef around Aquarius. The lessons learned from this exercise will be used to develop similar geologic surveys that will take place on other planets.

Chris and Ricky begin construction on the "Luna Sea" communications tower

Nick surveys the ocean floor around Aquarius.

Tomorrow we'll be "out the hatch" early, for another six-hour excursion on the ocean floor. Though it is always great to be working in the sea, tomorrow will be even more special as we'll be the first NEEMO crew to drive a rover across Carpenter Basin.

Written by Aquanaut Crew

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