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IMAGE: NEEMO 7 Mission Specialist Mike Barratt
Mission Specialist Mike Barratt (left) works with other team members on robotic device.
*NEEMO 7 Journals
*Aquanaut Profile: Mike Barratt

NEEMO 7 Journals

NEEMO 7, Mike Barratt
Day 7, Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sunday and a day of rest - of sorts. We had a few hours each of 'white space,' unscheduled time today, but this was actually catch up time to get paperwork, research results, and habitat resources in order. It disappeared pretty quickly. We did enjoy a link up with the International Space Station, speaking with Mike Fincke, a NEEMO veteran soon on his way home from a six-month tour, and Leroy Chiao, his relief. Mike is pretty much always smiling, and was floating and flipping all over the place during the event, I think to savor the last few days of weightlessness. Good to talk with our compadres. Another high point was an opportunity for each of us to videoconference with our families, seeing their faces and giving them in turn a video tour of Aquarius. This is so much like the weekly videoconferences between astronauts and their families, where the crewmembers get to show the unique aspects of their current home; except here if you flip upside down you fall on your head.

Can't wax too eloquently about the details of this day, except regarding how our crew has shaped up. Everyone brings a unique outlook and set of skills to the table. We watch out for one another and each in their own fashion navigates the controlled chaos of the day in concert with the team. Picture a small orchestra where each member is wearing a different Hawaiian shirt and probably reading something else besides the music, but darned if those sticks don't go up and down at the same time, and everyone finishes precisely together. This is particularly amusing during the educational and press events we conduct, usually with two or three of us seated calmly and neatly dressed (from the waist up) at the galley table. The others are anything but calm, and if the camera were to pan out just a few inches you would note people crawling by on their bellies to get from one end of the main lock to the other, thrown items flying overhead, and little nods flashed by the interviewees between questions to affirm the location of this item or the download status of that camera. This is not a venue for the multitask-challenged.

The real fun came at day's end when we finally got to step outside for a night dive. Again we watched the habitat lights fade from view as we headed out to the deep northeast for a near-Zen experience. Many of the normal daytime fish were hanging out motionless in sand crevasses between coral ridges, and an enormous crab was out feeding on algae just under our excursion line. After an hour or so out on the northeast section, we returned back to the habitat and spent another 40 minutes playing along the outside of our digs. We joined an incredible assortment of climbing and swimming life, the squirrels and the birds of our backyard, and our own Billy Cooksey out there on a hookah line with a bright light for some night photography. Overhead hab lights throw shadows of fish onto the sandy bottom like dark swimming ghosts, and every so often something enormous eclipses one of the big lights. The Aquarius itself looks as if it could be on any remote planet; a high-tech alien outpost with chicken noodle soup inside. It was wonderful to come in and swap "did you see thatů.?" stories, and the rack sure feels great.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/23/2004
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