The astronauts that are preparing for the Mars trip perform an underwater training that mimics the gravitation and pressure on the Red Planet.
The team of astronauts received the name “Aquanauts” and was sent deep into the Atlantic Ocean to train. The exercises will take 16 days and will aim at preparing the crew for a future mission to Mars.
The sea is believed to offer extreme conditions that will help the astronauts to learn how to act in complicated situations and to heighten their confidence.
The mission goes under the name Extreme Environment Mission Operations, on short NASA NEEMO 21.
The crew started the training on the 21st of July, and it will be based at the Aquarius Reef, 60 ft below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.
The astronauts will have to perform a set of tasks that will involve studies in geology, marine biology, and coral restoration. The underwater navigation systems and the scientific instruments are choreographed to simulate a Mars traverse.
In the meantime, the crew will have to build coral nurseries under the supervision of the Coral Restoration Foundation. The staghorn and elkhorn coral can grow through fragmentation so that it can reattach to the rock and form colonies again. The astronauts will use the natural process to grow corals that can be replanted afterward on the reef.
The coral nurseries project started in 2010. A coral need from six to nine months to reach the appropriate size. There is a total of five offshore nurseries in Florida, and a lot more in the Caribbean.
The crew will be taught how to survive in extreme conditions, with a breakage of communication, which will help them react in unpredictable environments and unexpected situations.
To follow-up with NASA’s latest scientific pursuits, the astronauts will have to test a DNA sequencer, telemedicine equipment, and HoloLens.
The team members have to face equipment fails, communication interruptions and delays similar to those they would encounter on Mars and tasks that may take a longer time that initially planned.
The NEEMO crew is composed of the astronauts Matthias Maurer, the chief medical officer Marc O’Griofa, the scientist Dawn Kernagis, and others.
The first eight days of the training will be commanded by the NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, who flew on the Expedition 40/41 in 2014 and was a naval aviator and a test pilot before joining NASA.
The second part of the training will go under the command of the NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, who flew on the STS-125 shuttle mission and has a doctorate in oceanography.
Image Source: Wikipedia