Earlier this week (July 20), the crew of astronauts and engineers began a space mission ... under water. The NEEMO 20 mission (NASA operation in extreme conditions) started at a depth of 62 feet (19 meters) off the coast of Florida, the team received a living space slightly larger than the size of the trailer.
For NASA, such regular excursions are an important test for testing people and equipment in extreme conditions. Here are a few places that the agency uses to train astronauts into space.
Before astronauts go into normal open space, they mimic the procedure many times in a huge pool called the Houston Hydrolaboratory. This not only allows them to get used to the equipment, but also to the location of things at the station, and to the peculiarities of a strange movement in a spacesuit. (Have you ever tried to do fine work in hockey gloves? Yes, it's hard.).
For the first time, NASA began using this technique in the 1960s when it was unraveled how to safely move astronauts outside; however, some hands-ons did not allow people to perform their tasks, which was accompanied by overheating and frustration. While the huge pool is 202 feet long, 102 feet wide and 40 feet deep, it is too small to create a full model of the International Space Station.
With the support of the European Space Agency, several NASA astronauts took part in “caves” (which are a group test to evaluate human behavior and performance skills). A two-week course tests astronauts in harsh conditions. They are located underground in a complex system of caves in Sardinia, Italy, where lifeguards are far away. They must use seat belts, and rely on teamwork and communication to get through it. In addition, for a limited time they must perform scientific experiments. Given all these similarities with the cosmos, astronauts return here again and again every year.
Sweating: Desert Rats
It is likely that not so long ago NASA approached the modeling of Mars. Desert RATS (or desert research and technology studies) is a place to test a wide range of activities. How to stop the rover? Can a spacesuit stand for several days or weeks in the sand? What is the best way to plan a path around a large area?
For several seasons between 1997 and 2011, teams went out into the Arizona desert to figure out such questions. The last field season today took place indoors in 2012, at the Johnson Space Center. The object is currently used in the same place for HERA.
While HERA (the study of human analogies) was many times the primary habitat for the RATS desert, the object investigated several different issues from 2013. In particular, researchers were interested in how people change psychologically after being in an isolated environment for a long time. Because few people were in space or even Antarctica, research continues to try to better predict when psychological problems will arise. In addition, in 2015, NASA began using this opportunity to simulate the International Space Station for several days to allow astronauts to gain additional sensations of space before takeoff.
Earlier we have already talked a little about NEEMO, but there is one more thing: it is actually much more diverse than the caves in one important respect. As well as the participants of the caves in a harsh and isolated environment, they can not communicate with the outside world. In a cave, the signal is not passed as in water, like a telephone call. In recent missions, NEEMO-nauts experimented the delay time of a spacewalk (what happens if you are on an asteroid with a 10-minute delay relative to time on Earth?), As well as excellent technology (using Google Glass to people in the command center could watch what was happening in real time).