NASA Announces 16th Undersea Exploration Mission Dates and Crew

WASHINGTON — An international team of aquanauts will travel again to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to simulate a visit to an asteroid in the 16th expedition of NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO).

This year’s NEEMO mission will begin June 11. It will build on lessons learned from 2011’s NEEMO 15 mission and test innovative solutions to engineering challenges allowing astronauts to eventually explore asteroids.

“We’re trying to look out into the future and understand how we’d operate on an asteroid,” said Mike Gernhardt, NASA astronaut and NEEMO principal investigator. “You don’t want to make a bunch of guesses about what you’ll need and then get to the asteroid to find out it won’t work the way you thought it would. NEEMO helps give us the information we need to make informed decisions now.”

This NEEMO expedition will focus on three areas: communication delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size. The crew of four will spend 12 days living 63 feet below the Atlantic Ocean’s surface on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat off the coast of Key Largo, Fla.

NASA astronaut and former space shuttle crew member Dottie M. Metcalf-Lindenburger will lead the crew. She will be joined by fellow astronauts Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Timothy Peake of the European Space Agency and Cornell University professor Steven Squyres, who was also a NEEMO 15 crew member.

To request interviews with the NEEMO 16 crew during the mission, contact Brandi Dean of NASA at brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov, Rosita Suenson of the European Space Agency at Rosita.Suenson@esa.int, Akiko Niizeki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at niizeki.akiko@jaxa.jp or Fred Gorell of NOAA at fred.gorell@noaa.gov.

The NEEMO mission is sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Program. For more information about NEEMO and the crew and links to follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, visit:   http://www.nasa.gov/neemo

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