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March

Learn how FIU scientists investigated how predator identity affects foraging behavior of herbivorous fishes and how responses of these fishes varied with time of day. In a controlled experiment at Aquarius, on a coral reef in the Florida Keys, FIU scientists used fiberglass predator models of a similarly sized black grouper (Mycteroperca bonaci) and great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) to simulate predation risk during three times of day. Click on the link above to access the full article.

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May

Get ready for an Ocean Discovery on World Ocean's Day! Weather permitting we are all going to take a deep dive into FIU's Aquarius Reef Base where we will take a glimpse of how life is under the sea for aquanauts and explore the habitat! The event will be available via Skype for Business. Limited availability event-only 250 classrooms can join! Register at https://education.microsoft.com/vftlive4oceans or simply click on the title above.

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We are excited to announce that we will be offering virtual field trip opportunities during our next mission: NEEMO 22. The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) is a mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live and work underwater in Aquarius. On June 19th-22nd we have virtual field trip opportunities through Skype in The Classroom from 9:00am-3:00pm EST. For more information on registering for a virtual field trip click the link above.

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June

During NEEMO 22 a team of FIU marine scientists and astronauts from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency partnered with the Coral Restoration Foundation to create the world's deepest coral nursery 90 feet underwater. As coral reefs continue to decline it is more important than ever to study whether repopulating corals in deeper waters can be used to repopulate reefs in shallow water. For more details on this project please click the link in the title.

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NEEMO 22 Splashup

The 22nd NEEMO mission and 134th mission for Aquarius ended June 27 with “splashup” at 12:03 p.m. EDT, concluding another safe and successful mission. NEEMO's international crew is healthy, and all of their ISS, exploration and partner objectives for this mission were completed. (NEEMO 22 Status Report.)

NEEMO 22: Mission Day-9

Today marks the final day of operations before the crew begins their 15 hour 45 minute decompression back to surface pressure. This mission marks the 3rd year in a row that scientists from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES/XI) Division at JSC ARES has teamed with the lab of Integrative Marine Genomics and Symbiosis (IMaGeSLab) at FIU to assess the photosynthetic capability of corals and their genetic connectivity between deep and shallow reef corals.

NEEMO 22: Mission Day-8

Crew members returning to gravity after long duration spaceflight can have difficulty controlling balance and gait. Investigators from Johns Hopkins University have developed a portable measure of balance and motor performance (Resilience and Portable Sensorimotor Assessment Platform) using wireless sensors and software integrated with computer tablets. RAPSAP will integrate with measures of physiologic and sensorimotor function in an attempt to identify the mechanism responsible for the change.

NEEMO 22: Mission Day-7

During EVAs NASA is evaluating the role that an intra-vehicular (IV) support system can play during EVA. The IV Support System will utilize Marvin, an open-source digital timeline execution and life support system management tool that provides synthesized adjusting timeline status information and displays simulated spacesuit telemetry data. The associated IV workstation focuses on examining ways to minimize the amount of equipment required for operations, reducing space and launch mass needed.

NEEMO22: Mission Days 5-6

Coral Restoration Foundation is teaming up with NASA and FIU for the second time to conduct research and build upon the long-term coral nurseries established at Aquarius during NEEMO 21. Research will include the comparison of growth, survival, and fitness of nursery corals grown at different depths. Ultimately, the coral colonies that are grown in the ARB nursery will be out-planted around Aquarius for long-term monitoring and throughout the Florida Keys to help restore threatened reefs.

NEEMO 22: Mission Day-4

Mission Day-4: NEEMO-22 - Aquarius is inspiring the next generation of researchers and explorers through innovative education and outreach programs that reach millions of kids globally. During this mission, aquanauts and topside education team members are hosting a number of Virtual Field Trips with schools around the world.

NEEMO 22: Mission Day-3

Weather is still limiting surface team support, but the aquanauts continue to work through mission objectives. The plan execution tool for this mission is Playbook, which is developed by NASA Ames Research Center and specifically designed for use by crew to support mission operations. Used as the primary mission operations tool, Playbook allows controllers and crew to see the mission plan and schedule changes in real-time or through fully simulated time-delay (NEEMO Status Report, 06/19/17).

NEEMO 22: Mission Days 1-2

Mission Day-2: NEEMO-22 - Although the weather has kept the surface team from working offshore today, the aquanauts press on without any adverse affects to their mission on the bottom. One of the main benefits of saturation diving from Aquarius. Mission Day-1: NEEMO-22 - Aquanaut team off the dock at 0830.

Meet the NEEMO 22 Crew

The NEEMO-22 Aquanaut team consists of NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren who will command the mission and will be joined by ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Pedro Duque, Trevor Graff, a Jacobs Engineering employee working as a planetary scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and research scientist Dom D’Agostino from the University of South Florida and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. They will be joined by FIU habitat techs Mark Hulsbeck and Sean Moore.

NASA will send an international crew to Aquarius this month to prepare for future deep space missions during the 10-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 22 expedition slated to begin June 18. NEEMO 22 will focus on both exploration spacewalks and objectives related to the International Space Station and deep space missions. As an analogue for future planetary science concepts and strategies, marine science also will be performed under the guidance of FIU marine scientists.

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Dr. Pawlick has been monitoring barrel sponges at Conch Reef since 1997. A major finding of this work has shown that although corals have steadily declined, barrel sponges have more than doubled. This month the group collected sponge tissue samples for genetic microbial analysis, investigated the role of sponges in cycling of carbon and nutrients on coral reefs, and deployed and tested the novel 3-D modeling imagery technique for quantifying the biomass of benthic organisms using GoPro video.

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NASA Conducts Engineering Run at Aquarius, May 2017

The dive EVA objectives included: Integrated EVA science operations (using the Coral in situ metabolism instrument, CISME); IV Support System (timeline tracking, EV crew real time tracking with "Navigator", Remote viewing of EV crew); Integrated Informatics (EVA Navigation & MCC crew tracking); EVA equipment transportation (testing modular tool transport system & small tool transport on EVA suit); Core sample acquisition (using UW drill for coral sampling); Testing of the UW tablet or iDive.

July

U.S. Navy Operational Readiness Training Mission

Navy divers will practice an operational readiness training scenario about core drilling that lead to the collapse of a structure after an earthquake struck, thus causing debris to be spread out over a large area on the ocean bottom. US Navy dive teams will use rebreathers to set up the debris field, program search patterns for an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle that will survey the bottom to identify the debris, and use hand held navigation and sonar systems to find and recover the debris.