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FW: NASA SPACE VETERAN LEADS UNDERSEA CREW




Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Melissa Motichek
Headquarters, Washington                       June 16, 2003
(Phone: 202/358-1272)

Kelly Humphries
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Jana Goldman
National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration
(Phone: 301/713-2483)

RELEASE: 03-198

NASA SPACE VETERAN LEADS UNDERSEA CREW

     For the first time, an astronaut with months of 
experience in space will compare that time to life 
underwater. Peggy Whitson, an International Space Station 
veteran, is commanding a NASA crew spending two weeks living 
on the ocean floor.

Whitson, who called the Space Station home for six months 
last year, is joined by astronauts Clay Anderson and Garret 
Reisman and scientist Emma Hwang for a NASA Extreme 
Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission June 16-29. 
The quartet will serve as the NASA members of a crew living 
in the Aquarius Underwater Research Facility off the coast of 
Key Largo, Fla. in the Florida Keys National Marine 
Sanctuary.

"NEEMO 5, our next-generation mission, goes beyond the bounds 
of space analog experience and will attempt to answer several 
significant scientific questions about long duration 
isolation in extreme environments," said Bill Todd, NEEMO 
project manager at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston. 
"We have ratcheted up the isolation factor, complexity and 
science objectives to a level that closely parallels a space 
mission experience. And the science we are performing may 
very well help answer several critical path questions on our 
road map for journeying to Mars and beyond," Todd said.

NEEMO missions are a cooperative project of NASA, the 
National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
the National Undersea Research Center, and the University of 
North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC-W). 

Aquarius, the only undersea research laboratory in the world, 
owned by NOAA and managed by UNC-W, is similar in size to the 
Space Station's living quarters, the Zvezda Service Module. 
The crew will use the undersea habitat as practice for long-
duration space habitation and to build undersea structures 
simulating Space Station assembly activities. They will also 
conduct scientific research on the human body and coral reef 
environments. The 45-foot long by 13-foot diameter underwater 
laboratory operates three miles off Key Largo. It sits on the 
ocean floor, about 62 feet beneath the surface, near deep 
coral reefs.

A surface life support buoy provides Aquarius with power, 
air, and communications, allowing scientists to live and work 
in reasonably comfortable quarters, and a shore-based 
"mission control" in Florida and a control room at JSC 
monitor crew activities.

The aquanauts plan to discuss their mission with the crew of 
the International Space Station, Commander Yuri Malenchenko 
and NASA Station Science Officer Ed Lu, during a ship-to-ship 
linkup tentatively planned for 12:25 p.m. EDT on June 25.

An opportunity for media to interview the crew of NEEMO 5 is 
available from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. EDT, June 25. A second 
opportunity is available June 26 from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT. Media 
interested in conducting audio or video interviews with the 
crew should contact the JSC Newsroom at: 281/483-5111 no 
later than noon EDT, Tuesday, June 24.

The NEEMO 5 crew will also participate in six educational 
"point-to-point" videoconferences and a Web chat during the 
mission. Students in Titonka, Iowa; Jersey City, N.J.; Omaha, 
Neb.; Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Honolulu; Milford, 
Mass.; Austin, Texas; and Seattle will participate in various 
educational events. The Web chat, a cooperative effort of 
JSC's Distance Learning Outpost and NASA's Ames Research 
Center Quest project, is at 2:30 p.m. EDT, June 19. 
Information about the Web chat is available on the Internet, 
at:

http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/projects/space/aquarius/2003/june.h
tml

For information about NASA on the Internet, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov

For information about the NEEMO project on the Internet, 
visit:

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/support/training/neemo/ne
emo5.html

For information about Aquarius on the Internet, visit:

http://www.uncwil.edu/nurc/aquarius/

          

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