The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) sends groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists to live in Aquarius, the world's only undersea research station, for up to three weeks at a time. Owned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Aquarius operates 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It is deployed next to deep coral reefs 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface.
The NEEMO 16 objectives focus on asteroid mission scenarios, but the operational and technical concepts that the team is investigating are common to any long-duration human exploration mission. Testing these mission concepts in the weightless underwater environment helps NASA understand the challenges of sending humans to explore an asteroid. Long-duration NEEMO missions provide astronauts with a realistic approximation of situations they will likely encounter on missions in deep space and provide an understanding of how to carry out daily operations in a simulated planetary environment.
For more information about NEEMO visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NEEMO/index.html