If it's hard to get to, nearly impossible to exist in, and super-cool to look at—not to mention 62 feet under the sea—then NEEMO is there! No, not the cute fish from the movies. We're talking NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) which is essentially outer space, under water.
NEEMO — the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project — is a NASA analog mission that sends groups of astronauts, en weeks at a time. The Aquarius habitat and its surroundings provide a convincing analog for space exploration. Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members, known as aquanauts, experience some of the same challenges there that they would on a distant asteroid, planet or moon. During NEEMO missions, the aquanauts are able to simulate living on a spacecraft and test spacewalk techniques for future space missions. Working in space and underwater environments requires extensive planning and sophisticated equipment. The underwater condition has the additional benefit of allowing NASA to "weight" the aquanauts to simulate different gravity environments.
Aquanauts! We love having a cool new career to aspire to. In true bureaucratic/alphabet-soup fashion, Aquarius is owned by NOAA, managed by UNCW, and used by NASA.
Dedicated StickerGiant fans won't be surprised by our love of NASA. We're more than a little smitten by astronauts in general (and now aquanauts). But we're completely dazzled by the organization's enthusiasm to tell their story, as evidenced by their embrace of social media. Um, and their blogger is named Dr. Love. Who says scientists don't have a sense of humor?