NEEMO – Conducting Sub Operations with Aquanauts

Mission: Uncategorized

Posted by: Saul Rosser

Saturday was one of the most exciting mission days I’ve participated in since joining the Aquarius team two and a half years ago. The NASA Motor Vessel Liberty Star is onsite supporting two Deepworker submersibles as NASA’s NEEMO team investigates techniques for exploring asteroids. The Deepworkers, which have one pilot inside, are launched from MV Liberty Star and transit to the Habitat site where they meet the Astronaut/Aquanauts. A communications cable from the Habitat is plugged into each submersible allowing the sub operator to be on the diver comms loop. Yesterday’s big challenge was learning how to translate (move) the subs, with astronauts in foot restraints on the front of the sub. This wouldn’t be so difficult, but the subs have a comms umbilical and the divers have comms/air umbilicals; all of which need to be managed. The key is making sure the umbilicals are actively managed.

For umbilical management, the Aquarius habitat technicians (James or Justin) work with support divers from the Liberty Star. At the same time, a NASA ‘Test Director’ is in the water providing oversight and photographers and support divers are around assisting.

To add to the adventure, an underwater Imax photography team is capturing the entire thing on their ~450 lb underwater 3d camera!

What an adventure!

Sub operations will continue this morning around 0930, so be sure to follow along.

Saul Rosser
Operations Director
Aquarius Reef Base