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Tara Ruttley
IMAGE: Tara Ruttley
NEEMO 6 Mission Specialist Tara Ruttley sets up a wireless position monitoring system.
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NEEMO 6 Journals

Topside Journal #2

Editor's note: Marc Reagan is the mission director for the NEEMO 6 mission. This is the second in a series of daily reports documenting the undersea activities of the NEEMO 6 crew and its Topside Team of supporters in Key Largo, Florida.


At about 10:16 a.m. this morning, the NEEMO 6 crew had been in saturation for 24 hours. This is an exciting milestone for them because by definition, they truly have become "aquanauts". Also, John joins a very small and elite cadre of people including Scott Carpenter, Dave Williams, Mike Gernhardt, Mike Lopez-Alegria, Dan Tani, Mike Fincke, Jeff Williams, Scott Kelly, Rex Walheim, and Peggy Whitson to have both flown in space and lived undersea.

The crew remains in good spirits and has readily adapted to its new environment. They had a challenging day with two separate PAO events, two "EVAs" (which included working with our "MCC" team in Houston using underwater comm), more unpacking, and several experiment activities. The in-habitat experiments are sponsored by the Engineering Directorate's Biomedical Systems Division at Johnson Space Center. All of these experiments are being used to investigate new technologies or techniques for improving the human experience in space. Most are probably early versions of experiments that will be manifested soon to the International Space Station.

Two of the experiments today were focused on countermeasures - in other words, countering the negative effects that the microgravity environment in space has on the human body. On the Space Station, there are basically three different kinds of exercise equipment: stationary bikes, a treadmill, and resistive exercise devices which use bungees. On this mission we are investigating a different kind of resistive device - one that uses constant torque springs. The springs reside in cartridges in 5- or 10- pound increments, and can just be easily clipped into place. The aquanauts have about a dozen different exercises to do several times during the mission to evaluate the usability and durability of the device.

IMAGE: Nicholas Patrick and Tara Ruttley
NEEMO 6 Mission Specialist Nick Patrick performs line pullover using Constant Force Resistive Exercise Unit with Tara Ruttley spotting.

The other countermeasure investigation involves stretching. It's been found that if a stretching force is held against a flexed muscle, when the muscle relaxes it gets stretched more than it was previously. Keep the force on, resist again and then relax, and it stretches more still. While this has obvious benefits for flexibility, it seems to have benefits to muscle strength as well. It also loads the bone, which helps keep the bones strong. Thus, it becomes a countermeasure to the effects of microgravity. The different muscles are stretched with the use of a strap that can hook over a foot and be pulled by hand. The problem is that when doing it in microgravity, the stretcher will be likely to start rolling off and tumbling. We are hopeful that testing this in a neutral buoyancy environment can give us some clues as to how best to implement these techniques on orbit.

Finally, we tested a wireless tracking system today. Knowing which module our crewmembers are in (in space) could be very helpful in a life threatening situation, for example. However, it's a complicated problem being able to track the location of objects accurately using local sensors. Today we tested a radio frequency system commonly used in hospitals inside Aquarius. Aquarius, much like the ISS, is a metal-walled cylinder. It also has the advantage of being extremely insulated from outside radio interferences (being insulated by all the sea water above) and is an ideal location for doing this type of evaluation. Later in the mission we'll be doing a similar evaluation using an optical (infrared) system.

Thanks for following along and for your support!

- NEEMO 6 Topside Team

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/16/2004
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