NEEMO 14 Mission Day 9

by Heather Paul and Amanda Knight
Analog Lead Technical Liaison
for Education and Public Outreach
Topside in Key Largo, Florida!

What a beautiful day to be at sea! After many days of high waves, wind, and “cloudy” conditions underwater, today the sky was clear, the waves were flat, and our topside team and Aquanauts were ready for another fantastic NEEMO day!

Today the crew finished the last of 6 days of evaluations and tests to determine how lighter or heavier weights and the placement of the weights affected their ability to work. The Moon’s gravity is 1/6 that of Earth, so if you weigh 60 pounds on Earth, you would only weigh 10 pounds on the Moon! During our underwater tests, to simulate weights of 200, 300, and 400 pounds (like what you would weigh on Earth with your spacesuit and life support backpack), we added 1/6 of those weights to the crew to simulate Lunar gravity conditions. So, here’s a test… how much weight did we put on the Aquanauts to make the 200, 300, and 400 pound weight conditions feel like Lunar gravity???

If you answered 33, 50, and 67 pounds, you got it right!

As you might expect, the crew preferred the lightest weight condition overall. But surprisingly, the lightest weight was not always the easiest to work with. For tasks such as shoveling or turning a crank, the simulated 400 pound weight (really 67 pounds) was preferred because it helped them exert the force they needed to complete their task. However, while walking around on the ocean floor and climbing the lander ladder, the crew performed most efficiently while wearing the lighter weight.

Working out with the “400 pound” weights… well, probably the light weights 🙂

Wearing different weights, the crew performs tasks from shoveling, to walking to climbing.

Today was also another big day for our education and public outreach events…

During his morning extravehicular activity (EVA), Chris did a special “shout out” to students and teachers at the Chris Hadfield Public School in Canada, connecting to an event with fellow Canadian astronaut Dave Williams. The school connected to Chris’s diver camera (click the “Red Diver” camera on the Aquarius webcam page) and Chris spoke briefly about being an aquanaut, gave a quick tour of the view from the lander deck, and introduced Tom (also out on EVA) and Nate (habitat technician and support diver assisting during the EVA activities). What a special moment, and as we watched from topside, we all decided that we wished we had that kind of cool experience when we were in school! Check out the awesome video.

We conducted one more Digital Learning Network event in the morning. Andrew talked to students from The Odyssey Academy (Bryan, TX), Richland Middle School (Richland Hills, TX), and Milstead Middle School (Pasadena, TX). This DLN event may be viewed on Youtube. Unfortunately we had a brief network outage, but our topside communications team was quick to restore the connection so that Andrew could continue to talk to these students. This was a particularly special event, as the students that connected to Aquarius were the same groups that Dr. Mary Sue Bell and Amanda Knight talked to while driving the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) last week! These students created patches for the NEEMO 14 mission, check them out!

Odyssey Academy patch

The Odyssey Academy (Bryan, TX)

Richland Middle School patch

Richland Middle School (Richland Hills, TX)

Milstead Middle School patch

Milstead Middle School (Pasadena, TX)

In the afternoon, Chris conducted an event with students in Canada and discussed the purpose and definitions of analogs; how diving compares to spacewalking; and the value of staging an underwater mission. There were several schools across Alberta, Quebec and Ontario that participated in the live event, including English Montreal School Board, Lester B. Pearson School Board, Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board, Riverside School Board, and Ministry of Education of Alberta.

Overall it was a very successful day of EVAs and outreach activities! We’ve uploaded videos on YouTube and more photos on Flickr, so make sure to check it out!