Aquanauts test space tools under water

A group of NASA aquanauts headed under water for 16 days to carry out research during a simulated space mission.

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 21 mission began on July 21, 2016, as an international crew of aquanauts splashed down to the undersea Aquarius Reef Base, located 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The NEEMO 21 crew will perform research both inside and outside the habitat during a 16-day simulated space mission.

During simulated spacewalks carried out underwater, they will evaluate tools and mission operation techniques that could be used in future space missions. Inside the habitat, the crew’s objectives include testing a DNA sequencer, a medical telemetry device, and HoloLens operational performance for human spaceflight cargo transfer.

NASA aquanauts
Pictured at the end of Mission Day 1 are the NEEMO 21 aquanauts, clockwise from top: Matthias Maurer (ESA), Marc O Griofa (Teloregen/VEGA/AirDocs), NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Dawn Kernagis (Institute for Human & Machine Cognition), and Noel Du Toit (Naval Postgraduate School). Inside the Aquarius habitat are Florida International University Habitat Technicians Hank Stark (left) and Sean Moore (right). Image Credit: NASA/Karl Shreeves

Two more years for Curiousity Rover

The Curiosity Rover has been exploring the surface of Mars for four years and is still going strong. The unit is in such good shape that it’s going to keep exploring for another two years.


Curiosity got off to a good start, as Space.com’s Mike Wall writes:

The rover found that the area near its landing site harbored a lake-and-stream system long ago, showing that at least some parts of the Red Planet could have supported microbial life in the ancient past.

The main goal of the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission is to answer that very question.

“It was just an early home run that kind of took the pressure off, and allowed us to expand on that [discovery] for the next few years,” Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told Space.com.”

Back in 2012, it wasn’t clear if Curiosity Rover would survive the “7 minutes of terror” involved in hitting Mars’s atmosphere and landing on the surface of the planet.