|Posted on Apr 30, 2012 09:26:30 AM | NASA Testing for Human Space Exploration | |||
By NEEMO 16 Commander Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger
NASA’s Johnson Space
Center is located southeast of two highway loops that encircle the city of
Houston. The outermost highway is known as Beltway 8. While the NEEMO 16 crew conducted training April 17-20 outside this beltway, our upcoming June
mission is focused on simulating a mission inside
another beltway – the asteroid beltway!
During training week, the
crew assembled face-to-face for the first time and learned details about Near
Earth Asteroids (NEAs). Future missions to these asteroids could help us learn
more about deep-space exploration and the beginnings of our solar system.
Depending on the target NEA composition, future missions could also prospect
and mine resources; and develop mitigation options for NEAs threatening planet
We also learned about the
spacewalk tools we will be using during the mission and then practiced using
these tools on the Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS). After taking a tour of the Space
Exploration Vehicle (SEV), we flew the asteroid simulator. While there are similarities between
flying a plane, a helicopter, a shuttle, and a Space Station Robotic
Manipulator System (SSRMS), flying around an asteroid is a unique experience.
Asteroids may have non-uniform gravity fields and erratic spin rates – not to mention the deep-space
debris and sub-optimal lighting – all conditions that will challenge even the
During the rest of training
week, we learned about the Aquarius Laboratory and what daily life will be like
living in the underwater habitat for (almost) two weeks. Communication delays will be
incorporated to simulate living near or on an asteroid. Each day, there will be two spacewalks,
and the beginning of the mission will focus on working on a NEA that astronauts
could tether to, while the second half of the mission will involve submersibles
that will simulate the SEVs and working on an asteroid that is less cohesive.
Often times we think
about the solar system existing beyond us or outside of our “beltway,” but in
reality, we live in a dynamic solar system, where the traffic, including NEAs,
continues to be better understood. NEEMO16 will provide more data on how to work and live near NEAs.
To learn more about the NEEMO 16 mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo.
Tags : Analogs, NEEMO, field testing