Mars scientist Steve Squyres is again learning to walk in space by diving into the sea as a NASA aquanaut.
Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy and lead scientist for the NASA Rover mission to Mars, is one of four NASA scientists making up the crew of the 16th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (aptly shortened NEEMO), a two-week undersea training mission located in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo.
Starting June 11, NEEMO aquanauts will spend close to two weeks living at the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory Base, at a depth of 63 feet, with the goal of testing techniques and protocols for human exploration of near-Earth asteroids.
The last NEEMO mission began in October 2011 -- Squyres’ first aquanautic adventure -- but was cut short due to the approach of Hurricane Rina. The second splashdown will continue efforts that began during NEEMO 15, but with some added objectives, Squyres said. The mission will focus on three areas: communication delays, restraint and translation techniques, and optimum crew size, according to NASA.