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NEEMO 21: An analogue mission to Mars

NEEMO 21 waterwalk

NEEMO 21: An analogue mission to Mars

Like something taken straight from SciFi, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer took part in NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO – a 16-day underwater sortie to enact a mission to Mars and test equipment for astronauts.

NEEMO’s underwater habitat off Florida acts as makeshift a space base for astronauts to make regular ‘waterwalks’ in full scuba gear. Both underwater missions plan sorties for the astronauts to simulate spacewalks.

For NEEMO 21, a rotating crew of four complemented Matthias and NASA astronaut Megan McArthur who tested new techniques, operation procedures and technology.

NEEMO 21 waterwalk, NASA

Two astronaut on an underwater simulated spacewalk. The 21st NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, or NEEMO, sortie enacted a mission to Mars to test equipment for astronauts. The six ‘aquanauts’ spent 16 days 20 m underwater in their habitat and performed ‘waterwalks’ – by adjusting their buoyancy, aquanauts can simulate Mars gravity.