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Finding NEEMO at LC: Dr. Kelsey Young to Speak May 4 about NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations

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This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

The Science, Technology and Business Division is presenting “NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO): Preparing Astronauts for Space Exploration” with Dr. Kelsey Young in the Pickford Theater, third floor, Madison Building, Library of Congress, on Thursday, May 4, 2017, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

NEEMO is a NASA mission which began in 2001 and sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists from many countries to live and work for up to three weeks at a time in Aquarius, the world’s only undersea research station, which functions as an analog for space exploration. It is located off the coast of Key Largo, 62 feet below the ocean surface in the Aquarius Reef Base. Aquarius was owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration until 2012.  Since 2013 it has been owned by Florida International University as part of their marine education and research initiative, the Medina Aquarius Program.

Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members, known as aquanauts, encounter some of the same challenges there that they would on a distant asteroid, planet or our moon. During NEEMO missions, the aquanauts are able to simulate living on a spacecraft and test spacewalk techniques for future space missions. Being underwater has the additional benefit of allowing NASA to “weight” the aquanauts to simulate different gravity environments. Mission 20 in 2015 tested time delays in communications due to the distance of potential mission destinations, such as Mars.

NEEMO 14 aquanaut practices shoveling underwater. Courtesy of NASA:

Dr. Young will talk about the results of the NEEMO 21 mission and plans for the upcoming NEEMO 22 mission, and how these tests fit into plans to once again send humans beyond low-Earth orbit.

Dr. Young, who spoke at the Library in October 2016 on planetary surface exploration, is a research scientist who works both at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Her research interests include using sites on Earth as testing grounds for advancing planetary field geology and developing the technology needed to carry out geologic and geochemical observations on other planetary surfaces, whether on the moon, Mars or asteroids. She served both as a science backroom member and as a geologist crew member for the 2010 Desert RATS mission, living in the Space Exploration Rover for one week with astronaut Stephanie Wilson.

For inquiries about this program contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at [email protected] or the division office at: 202-707-1212. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].

The lecture will be later broadcast on the library’s webcast page and YouTube channel “Topics in Science” playlist.

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