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NASA's Underwater Training Facility

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the going-down-to-go-up dept.

NASA 55

An anonymous reader writes "The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project (NEEMO) sends groups of NASA employees and contractors to live in the Aquarius underwater laboratory for up to three weeks to study human survival in preparation for future space exploration. NASA has used it since 2001 for a number of missions, usually lasting 10 to 14 days, with research conducted by astronauts and others NASA employees."

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Gee, that's a coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134198)

See, there was this one guy in a classic fiction book called Captain Nemo, and he lived underwater too!

NEEMO, Nemo, it's almost the same!

Love that artist rendering (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134246)

What was that done on a 386? looks like a cut scene from a playstation 1 game

Re:Love that artist rendering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134292)

Budget cuts in special effects, not every picture can be a moon landing moment :P

What a waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134298)

What a waste of my tax dollars - leave this to private industry and give me a tax break :(

Re:What a waste! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36135594)

That's not really how that works. You leave it to private industry and give them a tax break. Or you vote for people that are somewhat less self destructive than a group of lemmings.

Re:What a waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36135810)

I agree! I run a local McDonald's franchise here in Cape Canaveral, FL. I've tried asking my customers to subsidize my planned deep-sea research in preparation for commercial space exploration of the asteroid belt. My customers are totally enthusiastic about the idea, but... well, here's what one prospective customer told me:

"Fred" -- that's my name -- "Fred, you make such a good $2 hamburger that I'd like to invest in your extreme-environments project. As it happens, I recently inherited $23 billion from my aunt, so I think I could pay your $15 billion asking price. But it just doesn't make sense. You see, the Big Guys next door are doing the same thing, and I don't have to pay them anything extra because they're subsidized by tax dollars. I think I'll just sit on my cash. It's tough, but that's the way it is."

It's so frustrating. I know I'm just a humble local guy, but I really wish the government would stop interfering with the profitability of my research projects regarding deep-sea conditions, satellite communications, intrastellar exploration, astronomy, and particle physics.

I hope they never lose it.. (0)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134306)

Because if they do, we might all be subject to Operation Finding NEEMO

Wow. (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134320)

Playing in the water instead of developing technology needed to make space life sustainable. NASA should be more like the LHC and less like a playground.

NASA Planet-X Survival under Mis-Leading Titles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134698)

I have two better questions.

I know when Planet-X causes the solar sun to convulse sporatic coronal-mass ejections at planet Earth for many unknown years, there will be government employees 10's of miles underground and perhaps as deep as the crust for their intention to insulate themselves from the burning canopy of tillable soil above them.

I distinctly remember that the quality of the atmosphere durring periods of habitation of the "dinosaurs" was a rich improvement favoring oxygen; how will the ocean evaporating into the atmosphere enrich this planet as it was allegedly millions of years ago, and how does the sun's coronal-mass ejections effect NASA's ability to insulate theirselves on the sea floor?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134934)

Please know what in the hell you are talking about before you criticize. Underwater training instead of expensive bullshit computer simulations is one of the few things NASA does right.

http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_ballard_on_exploring_the_oceans.html

I work with ROVs and studying space exploration is one of my hobbies.

Ask John Hunter about his Scamjet if you want to know about computer simulations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IXYsDdPvbo

Re:Wow. (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136420)

Huh? NASA needs to worry more about the fundamental physical problems related to propulsion, asteroid mining, permanent space habitats, cost, and safety. All that stuff is a bit more important to take care of before you start doing practice space walks. At NASA's current rate of technological research and development those guys will be long dead and forgotten before anyone even needs that kind of training. NASA is totally focused on the wrong problems. It's like they don't even notice that they have absolutely no technology or physics understanding to do these things.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36138674)

The fundamental physical problems of permanent space habitats, cost, and safety are all addressed by underwater habitats. It's a significantly more demanding environment than space, with equal or greater danger and the sort of isolation which will help to psychologically prepare the "Aquanauts" for a world with no Fire trucks, Ambulances, or GPS.

Propulsion is a matter of physics and will not be seeing any major advancements at any significant rate in the near future. Delta V is a bitch any way you slice it, and after you get you survival gear out of the gravity well, the only new factor will be having to travel longer distances. This means fuel depot, and the best way to learn is to do. Scientists have been theorizing in rolling chairs for several decades. The navel gazing is done, and if they want to make it happen, it's time to take action.

We've been mining for centuries and adding "on an asteroid" is only new because of the zero gravity.

deep space... (1)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134338)

the final frontier!

Re:deep space... (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 3 years ago | (#36138566)

Even the not-so-deep-space is a frontier to us...heck, 40 years and we didn't even make it past the moon...hell, we didn't even make it back to the moon!

Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134344)

I'd like to see a lab like this support operations in deepwater commercial activities like exploration and drilling. When BP's Macondo well exploded on the Gulf floor last year, we all learned suddenly that BP and the oil industry was unprepared for what is an obvious risk in that business. NASA's research should give us much better remote vehicles for monitoring and taking control of undersea operations. Establish normal monitoring to reduce risk and stop catastrophes as they barely get started. Supply technology, techniques and qualified staff during a breakdown. And deliver forensics after a breakdown to assign liability and strategies for recovery.

The $4B+ the Federal government gifts the 5 biggest petrocorps each year would be better spent improving NASA's undersea research to benefit that industry and protect it all from its damages. And in fact that $4B+ should be paid for by the industry, using a small fraction of its current profits (and an even tinier fraction of its gross revenues). $4-8B spent on NASA's underwater research would give us the skills we need to colonize and exploit the seas sustainably, instead of the nearly blind, haphazard and disastrous way we're doing it now.

The oil corps have proven over and again they're never going to do disaster preparedness and mitigation on their own. NASA is as usual spending public money in one of the best investments of all time. The match in NASA filling that vacuum is compelling.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (3, Interesting)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134368)

Wouldn't that duty fall under NOAA though? NASA only does this because water is a suitable analog for the vacuum of space. For actual hydrological research, NOAA would be the logical administration to conduct it.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134448)

It'd be a lot easier to get funding if you just did it as military research. Of course, a lot more of the funding would go into private pockets in that case...

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134598)

Except that NASA's got better technology for longterm human occupation of undersea environments, and better technology for automated human operations in inaccessible environments, and better technology overall. As well as a better track record in tech transfer to industry for boosting the US economy and industrial capabilities.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136122)

Except that NASA's got better technology for longterm human occupation of undersea environments

Which is pretty much irrelevant as no human is going to be living at the depths involved.
 

better technology for automated human operations in inaccessible environments

You do realize that "automated operations" and "human operations" are pretty much mutually exclusive don't you? But anyways, for remote supervising of humans, NASA has nothing that anyone else doesn't have. For remote supervision of automated operations... well, pretty much ditto. (NASA does have a better PR department thought.)
 

nd better technology overall

If "technology" in the real world was like it was in games and bad fiction, that would be a reasonable statement. But technology in the real world can't be measured as "overall better" or "overall worse" because it can't be quantitatively measured at all.
 

As well as a better track record in tech transfer to industry for boosting the US economy and industrial capabilities.

See above about "better PR".

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36138108)

The Aquarius is owned by NOAA and NASA is borrowing it for this because they don't have their own. NOAA is much better equipped and has far more experience operating underwater, just as NASA is far better equipped and has far more experience for operating in space. Dumbass.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36146114)

NASA only does this because water is a suitable analog for the vacuum of space.

s/vacuum/weightlessness/

s/space/orbit/

It's by no means a perfect analog though. Water has substantial viscosity so that if you lose contact with your work site/ object, you can swim back to it. Not an issue in a training-without-killing scenario, but it is going to affect training. Also, the stiffness of suit joints is a major issue in soace, not helped by the pressure differential between inside and outside of the suit ; this can be addressed, but it's a complicating and constraining factor, as is buoyancy.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134400)

Did you miss the dozen or so 10 foot high underwater robots [scientificamerican.com] working on the spill?

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134456)

No no, the NASA lab under 100 feet of water is far more instructive than decades worth of actual experience building robots for operation under thousands of feet of water.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (2)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134604)

Yeah, I saw months of underwater robots working extremely poorly on the spill. I'd like to see them work a lot better. NASA has a much better track record than the oil industry that threw those inadequate robots at the predictable problem.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36135530)

NASA wouldn't have been able to fix them. Actually, NASA is working together with the companies making those robots, build on each others experience and improve both NASA's robotic equipment and the sub-sea support ROVs.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36135624)

Oh, I see. According to you, NASA is both not competent to do the job, and competently doing the job.

You'll probably counter that NASA needs the private industry's help to do it. But of course that would be NASA's option if it were doing what I said, which you refuse to accept.

What you said is nonsense. Stop posting until you can at least make sense.

Goodbye.

Re:Deepwater Drilling Emergency Station (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136118)

I would pin the problem on there not being any standing capabilities intended for when the blow out preventer fails.

So sure, they would benefit from more robotic capabilities, but their capture solutions were waaaay to improvised, removing part of the stack and clamping on should be an eventuality that is engineered into the system.

Underwear? (3, Funny)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134352)

I read the title as the "Underwear Training Facility". Damn, NASA sure are thorough in their training.

Re:Underwear? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134430)

Effect of low gravity on wedgie probability.

Re:Underwear? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136392)

They're trying to catch gnomes.

Either that, or they're trying to figure out what step 2 is.

Re:Underwear? (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36141026)

ahhh ok, glad i'm not the only one who read it that way..... should've read the entire thread before posting below, oh well, TL;DR

Re:Underwear? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36148280)

I did rtfa, but this is still jokeworthy as it is quite plausible for a NASA program. ;P

Why the they readying to put people in space again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134354)

Nothing holds back space exploration and space science more than the astronauts and astronaut culture. Umanned is the way of the foreseeable future.

And now, for their next trick (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134378)

Maybe NASA could come up with a good reason for manned space exploration? Machines are getting better, we aren't. We KNOW what to do for long duration missions, they're just too expensive for nothing. Wee, a rock! Wee, a picture of a rock! Big deal.

Send machines, not people.

Voyager and the Third Age of Discovery [www.cbc.ca]

I know you'll just automaticcaly mod this down and not even listen (and THINK) about what the man has to say. But on the off chance one or two people are still capable of critical reasoning when pictures of Space Nuttery are around, the link is there.

Re:And now, for their next trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134656)

By the same reasoning, maybe scientists should come up with a good reason for studying remote objects in the universe? For making theories about how it began and how it will end? Wait, shouldn't they also justify robotic exploration of the solar system in the first place? After all, there are no practical applications and we may as well burn all the money. Sure, we need comms satellites and some space physics experiments but other than that it's purely to satisfy our vain curiosity.

Re:And now, for their next trick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36135340)

None of which needs to be MANNED. Totally missed my point, again. You can keep tossing up telescopes, sending probes, whatever. As soon as someone thinks we'll be sending people to Mercury and putting up bungalows on Mars, you don't see how that's maybe different?

The wrong approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134384)

This is just my opinion, but I think NASA is taking the wrong approach on its continued focus on the use/training of astronauts. Humans are not designed for working in space, and can only adapt for short periods of time. Robots do not have any of those limitations, but currently lack the intelligence and capabilities to do the job. Google, iRobot, and others are trying to fill the gap (robot driving, cleaning robots, etc), but the longterm payoff/risks make this process very slow/limited in the private sector. If DARPA/NASA was to suspend their astronaut programs, and instead set a goal of making robots the replacements for astronauts I think the long term payoff for society as a whole would be better off. In time, however, maybe humans can go places after the robots have proven the technologies, built and space/moon/mars outposts, etc..

Re:The wrong approach... (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134664)

this is just training to create the memories and skills needed when implanted into the Nexus models current being created elsewhere. As they probably say at NASA, robots? We don't need no stinking robots!

LoB

I work there! (-1, Troll)

spacemen43 (2159506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134428)

I have a lot of pictures of the facility on my blog [freeblogspot.org]

Re:I work there! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134542)

goatse (or similar) warning

Why underwater? (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134464)

Build a mock space station put it in a building that will fit it then suck all the air out of the container building. Then see if they open the door. It would probable be a lot cheaper. Or they could use the container building to sequester carbon either way can't open the door and it would help offset are the carbon NASA creates.

Re:Why underwater? (1)

tele (246082) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134516)

> then suck all the air out of the container building

Which actually represents the difficult part. Besides that, the underwater facility allows for testing of equipment as well as humans under harsh conditions.

Re:Why underwater? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134672)

as long as they use that new graphene based nano tube gravity vacuum while they're sucking the air out.

LoB

Re:Why underwater? (1)

Excelcior (1390167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134816)

Sucking all the air out and keeping it airtight would be pretty spendy. Besides, water provides the effect or weightlessness (which they need to practice several of the parts of the training, such as shoveling in microgravity).... try copying that with an airless building.

Re:Why underwater? (2)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 3 years ago | (#36135084)

NASA has had astronauts train underwater ever since the 1950s, precisely to simulate zero-g. IIRC Arthur C. Clarke originated the idea; at least, he took up diving around then with that motive.

Re:Why underwater? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136412)

1960s, actually. NASA came up with the underwater training after Cernan's near-disastrous EVA on Gemini 9. I believe that Buzz Aldrin developed the idea.

...Aquarius underwater... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#36134908)

Brought to you by the Redundancy Department of Redundancy.

Re:...Aquarius underwater... (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136192)

Fail reply is fail.

"Aquarius" is a proper noun in this case, so it's not redundant with the descriptive term "underwater". Also, Aquarius could be a reference to the astrological sign, which would make sense given this is a space program. Would you have said the same thing about the Gemini program if the astronauts had always gone up in pairs.

It is also worth noting that Aquarius is an air sign, not a water sign as you would expect.

Re:...Aquarius underwater... (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 3 years ago | (#36137108)

the Gemini program if the astronauts had always gone up in pairs.

Remind me to never go an any mission named Scorpio... <shudder>

The cost of human space flight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36134962)

Billionsss and Billionsss of dollerths.

Compu-ta.. set course for Zimbabwe station in sector 4.

Sci-fi is a disease that should be wiped out.

Re:The cost of human space flight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36135992)

Well hold on there. Sci-fi is fun reading. It's when you start thinking we can build Ringworlds and colonize black holes that the problems start. Real-world physics, science and technology suggests that space is non-viable for humans. Besides being an utterly hostile vacuum, it's radiation-blasted and our bodies fall apart in free-fall. Also, Earth orbit is "space" the same way that dipping your toe in the ocean is "Europe". You've got a ways to go yet! We just don't live long enough for the scale of the universe.

The same people who think we'll colonize the universe also don't see a problem with our ten to twenty years of useful life between youth and middle-age. You're going to explore the universe with farting, belching, paunchy, balding, gray-haired middle-aged men with acid reflux, bad backs, failing memories and andropause?

"Why didn't you wake me at 7?" (Sounds of joints popping)

"I WAS BUSY! Arggh, my acid reflux!" (falls asleep)

"Why did you eat the dehydrated sausage last night? You know it gives you gas! It was unbearable! Where was I supposed to GO? OUTSIDE!?"

"I haven't been able to ride my bike, mow the lawn or SWIM since we got on this tin can! AAARARGHGHHGH!!!"

"Yeah, but look at all those Luddites down there on their mud ball! Breathing air! Eating fresh food!"

"Yeah, what a bunch of losers! HAHA! Now where are my bifocals!?" (huge fart)

"Right next to your girdle and MAN BRA!"

Re:The cost of human space flight. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36136182)

I think it was best put this way (paraphrased slightly): Ask 10 different scientists questions about evolution, physics, genetics, biology, chemistry, etc., and you'll get 10 different answers. There is, however, one thing that every legitimate scientist in the world will agree on - that, at some time in the future, whether it be a thousand years from now, a million years, or a billion, that eventually, our sun will go cold and dark. And when that happens, if we have not reached out to the stars and established colonies in other systems, the entirety of humanity and everything that we have ever accomplished dies on that day.

In that context ... there is NO amount of dollars that is too high for the pursuit of manned space flight, with the goal of extrasolar exploration and colonization.

Astronauts are so wonderfully quaint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36135660)

In an era where all space science is done by unmanned probes and robots, I think it says a lot that we are willing to preserve our heritage in manned space flight. These selfless men and women in their period costumes, devote their careers to re-enacting history, so that we can enjoy the spectacle. Very much like the royal family in the UK. I'm so happy that the US taxpayers are willing to spend billions of dollars each year to keep this history alive. It is almost as good as civil war re-enactments!

Background music (1)

cmotdibbl3r (1353581) | more than 3 years ago | (#36136562)

Does it always have Aerosmith music playing in the background?

anyone else read the title as..... (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36140990)

"NASA's Underwear Training Facility?"

need more coffee.....

hey, it would explain that whacko astronut chick's diaper wearing death drive a few years back....
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