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IMAGE: NEEMO 7 Mission Specialist Mike Barratt equipped in SCUBA gear
Astronaut/Aquanaut Mike Barratt prepares for a NEEMO 7 extravehicular activity training session.
*NEEMO 7 Journals
*Aquanaut Profile: Mike Barratt

NEEMO 7 Journals

NEEMO 7, Mike Barratt
Day 4, Thursday, October 7, 2004

I remember as a youngster reading Jacques Cousteau's book, "The Silent World," and wanting to learn to dive as soon as I could. Until today, our reef training had indeed been fairly silent, broken only by a few bubbles from our own exhalations. All that changed with the addition of comm masks to our technical diving rigs. These are elegantly functional super-masks that envelope your head and allow you to talk freely without a regulator mouthpiece. Learning to use these units provided one of the more comical moments of our training thus far. The external battery and transducer pack must be wet to operate; as such, we gathered around a large tub of rinse water, donned our masks, dunked the comm boxes by their wires, and proceeded to establish communications with each other. If you can picture four bug-eyed aliens on their knees sipping through straws from a large communal soup bowl, with occasional flamboyant one-handed gestures to one another, you'd just about have it.

The sea state was a bit heavier today, with four-to-six-foot waves making boat launching and recovery dicey. Once in the water, it is tremendously fun to ride the waves at eye level, although checking one another's rig is definitely more challenging. Usually when the thumbs-down sign is given for descent you really do enter a suddenly quiet world. But today, the chop and slop of the surface was traded for the hum of group single-sideband communication. For much of our work on the mission, such communication will be necessary, and it truly is amazing to be able to converse and discuss complex topics while down under. But I can already foresee wanting to go back to a simpler time of hand signals and gestures, with no thought of holding your exhalations so that the bubble rush doesn't overpower the incoming voice.

Our team is coming together nicely; each one brings something unique to the table, and we are learning where to use everyone's talents. We may never feel 100% prepared technically, but we are so ready to go camp in a can together.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/29/2004
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