ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet spent five days last year as part of NASA’s underwater project to test technologies that could be used in future space missions – and now they will return to the seas this year in July and September.
NEEMO’s underwater habitat off Florida acts as makeshift a space base for astronauts to make regular ‘waterwalks’ in full scuba gear. As project manager Bill Todd notes: “The extreme environment of living undersea is as close to being in space as possible.”
The Aquarius underwater base where equipment and techniques are tested for future space exploration.
A simulated spacewalk during NASA’s Seatest to practise moving across different terrains and deploying sensor arrays. At different points, the astronauts ran through ways of sampling the seabed. Techniques included a simple inverted bag, a modified ‘pooper-scooper’ and an advanced pneumatic drill that chips away at a rock while ensuring that pieces do not fly away.
Test director Hervé Stevenin supervises ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet during spacewalk training at ESAs Neutral Buoyancy Facility in the European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, Germany, 16 June 2010.
This course teaches ESA astronauts basic spacewalk concepts and skills, such as tethering to the Station, the use of special tools, communicating with crewmates and control rooms, and how to keep full situational awareness in a complex and challenging environment.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen before going underwater during ESA’s CAVES 2012 astronaut training course.
CAVES, an abbreviation of ‘Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills’, prepares astronauts to work safely and effectively and solve problems as a multicultural team while exploring uncharted areas using space procedures.
ESA astronaut instructor Hervé Stevenin ready to perform soil core sampling with a core tube and a hammer underwater off the coast of Marseille, France.
During the mission, several soil samples were collected by the aquanauts with similar tools to those used on the Moon by the Apollo 11 crew.
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