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Sea Life

IMAGE: Sea turtle

A sea turtle visits the reef.

*NEEMO 5 Journals
*Aquanaut Profile: Clayton Anderson

NEEMO 5 Journals

NEEMO 5, Clayton Anderson
Day 2, Tuesday, June 17, 2003

I have been sitting on my bunk, 20,000 millimeters (60 ft) under the sea, in the Aquarius habitat. Located off of the shores of Key Largo, Florida, it is truly a space flight analogy. I have been listening to some beautiful New Age music as I watch Spotted Eagle Rays, Caribbean Manta/Sting Rays and a Nurse Shark silently and smoothly cruise the ocean floor. I adore this Celtic laced New Age music, smooth and mysterious, as it is the perfect background for this undersea tapestry. I look forward to the day that songs like this will gracefully and gently stimulate my senses against the background of our beautiful blue and green planet Earth.

The Aquarius habitat is our home for two weeks. While similar to a shuttle flight in length (usually about 11-14 days) and crew size (there are six of us; 3 astronauts, 1 scientist and 2 habitat technicians), many of the activities parallel the International Space Station (ISS). We are dining on ISS cuisine and testing out various pieces of equipment destined for station (e.g., a portable ultrasound machine). The work is keeping us extremely busy, especially the first few days. This is VERY similar to space flight as it takes everyone a couple of days to establish their individual routines. We are well on our way.

Our crew is a blast. Commander Peggy Whitson, Chief Science Officer of Expedition 5 to the ISS, is a wonderful leader. Her cool demeanor and calm temperament are complemented by her wonderful sense of humor. Speaking of senses of humor...there's Garrett Reisman. An astronaut classmate of mine (1998) and a mechanical engineer from New Jersey, he keeps us all in stitches. His antics are the perfect "after SCUBA dive/space walk" tonic. Yet when it's time to get down to business, there is none better. I would cherish the opportunity to fly in space with these two.

Dr. Emma Hwang, a biomedical engineer from the Johnson Space Center, is our "Steady Eddy" and our mission Science Officer. She is simply amazing with her ability to coordinate all of the experiments and life science data collections while troubleshooting various equipment problems when things don't seem to like 2.5 times the pressure on land! Our hab techs, James Talacek (North Carolina) and Ryan Snow (Vermont), have a simple job - keep us alive! As James would say, "...sounds easy, doesn't it...?" The true "kings" of the habitat, they are two of the most competent individuals that I have ever met. That makes me glad, because our lives are, in a large way, in their hands. The rest is up to us!

It's almost time for bed, one of my favorite times during the previous week of training and during our first days as neophyte "Aquanauts." Exhausted, yet content with a good day's work, I will settle down alongside my crewmates. Nestled together in our 6 bunk beds, nary a few inches apart, I will drift off to sleep with a few more tunes….

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 06/19/2003
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