NASA to Train Future Spacewalkers in Asteroid Landscape on Ocean Floor

NASA to Train Future Spacewalkers
Before humans explore an asteroid in space, a group of NASA astronauts and scientists will test concepts and techniques for the future expeditions on a mock space rock on the ocean floor.

This week, engineers are laying the foundations for the 15th expedition of NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO 15 for short, which is scheduled to begin on Oct. 17. To prepare for that fall undersea mission, diving crews are setting up the tools and rocky environment needed to simulate an asteroid landscape. [Photos: Asteroids in Deep Space]

NEEMO expeditions take place at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, which rests more than 62 feet (19 meters) below the ocean's surface, off the coast of Key Largo in the Florida Keys.

This year's NEEMO 15 expedition will simulate a trip to an asteroid, and the so-called "aquanauts" will investigate how best to anchor to the surface of a space rock and how to move around, said NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean.

To prepare for the 10-day October mission, various engineering tests will be conducted from May 9 to May 13 at the Aquarius laboratory. The NEEMO support team will perform surface dives to lay out the test site, including configuring a rock wall, NASA officials said.

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