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NEEMO Undersea Crew Tests Tools and Techniques for Future Spacewalks

This photograph of NASA astronaut Serena Aunon (@AstroSerena) moving tools and equipment underwater was taken during the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20 mission, which began on July 20, 2015. NEEMO 20 is a 14-day mission by an international crew to the Aquarius Reef Base, located 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. NEEMO 20 is focusing on evaluating tools and techniques being tested for future spacewalks on a variety of surfaces and gravity levels ranging from asteroids to the moons of Mars and the Martian surface.

The mission tests time delays in communications due to the distance of potential mission destinations. The crew also will assess hardware sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) that allows crew members to read the next step in a procedure without taking their hands or eyes away from the task using a tablet, a smartphone and a head-mounted interface.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is commanding the NEEMO 20 mission aboard the Aquarius laboratory. Parmitano flew in space during Expeditions 36 and 37 aboard the International Space Station in 2013, where he spent 166 days living and working in the extreme environment of microgravity. He conducted two spacewalks on his first spaceflight. Parmitano is joined by NASA astronaut Aunon, NASA EVA Management Office engineer David Coan and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai.

A full length interview with European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, which also features video of underwater training and testing for astronauts, can be viewed here.

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