|Posted on Jun 19, 2012 07:51:51 PM | NASA Testing for Human Space Exploration | 0 Comments ||
By Aquanaut Steve Squyres (Cornell University)
One thing we haven't thought about too much on this NEEMO mission has been the weather and sea conditions. The reason is that they've mostly been so good.
Image at right: Squyres shows the underwater visibility with this image.
On NEEMO 15, it was another story. The start of that mission was delayed by a tropical storm, and we came out of the water early because of an approaching hurricane. The beautiful waters of the Florida Keys, which are known to divers for their clarity, were a hazy green murk for most of the mission. We got the job done in the time we had, but it wasn't always pretty. Sometimes we actually got lost out there, trying to find our way through the fog.
For most of NEEMO 16, conditions have been beautiful. You can see it in the pictures that have been posted online: clear water and good diving.
Well... that has changed a bit in the past 24 hours. I took a picture out the bunk room window right before Tim and I headed out for our afternoon EVA, and you can see what it looks like... nothing but blue fog. The visibility is maybe 15 feet now, and I think that's being generous.
Image at right: Aquanaut Steve Squyres in the wet porch of the Aquarius habitat.
Bad vis is only part of the story. The real issue is the strong winds and big waves topside. We can't really see that from down here, but we can feel it. The numbers we've been hearing are 25-knot winds and 6 to 8-foot seas... serious business in a small boat. Down here we feel the "surge" a bit as the habitat shifts position slightly, and the popping of our ears as each big wave passes overhead. Up top, though, our hard-working support divers are pitching and rolling in big waves for hours at a time, needing all the care they can muster just to get in and out of their dive boats. Difficult stuff.
The good news is that the bad conditions aren't keeping us from getting the job done. We've been down here more than a week, and I think we could almost find our way around out there with our eyes closed now if we had to. The surge moves us around a bit during our simulated spacewalks, but not enough to make a difference. If conditions had been like this right out of the gate, I think it would have been a bit of a challenge. But with nine days under our belts, we're able to keep on keepin' on.I'm still hoping things will get better tomorrow, though!
Learn more about NEEMO at www.nasa.gov/neemo.
Tags : Analogs, General, NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations), field testing