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IMAGE: NEEMO-7 Mission Commander Robert Thirsk
NEEMO-7 Mission Commander Robert Thirsk reviews the daily plan from aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory.
*NEEMO 7 Journals

NEEMO 7 Journals

NEEMO 7, Topside Team
Day 4, Thursday, October 14, 2004


As part of our exploration challenge, we are evaluating some different robots on this mission. You might think that if finding commercial robots would be difficult, then finding commercial robots that work underwater would be nearly impossible. It turns out that's not quite true - there are several different types of robots out there. Today we were fortunate to have members of the Underwater Crime Scene Investigation team from the Panama City Campus of Florida State University with us at the invitation of NURC. They use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to do crime scene investigation. This particular ROV can be "flown" around underwater on a 300 foot tether from a boat. It can take video of what it's seeing, and even has a manipulator on the front. Robots like this will be important in staking out human habitats on the Moon and Mars one day. One use is that they can take all of the risk of being exposed in the hazardous environment, but can act as the remote eyes, ears (or whatever kind of sensor we put on them) of the astronaut back in the habitat. Another use is that when an astronaut does go out on an excursion, the robot can relay information that helps the guy back in the habitat that's assisting him. It was amazing how useful it was to us - the mission control in a sense - to be able to keep track remotely of the work being done at the bottom of the sea below us. The lady and gentlemen from FSU were consummate professionals, and were a pleasure to work with today.

The NEEMO crew has also been working on "Waterlab" for the last few days. Waterlab is like an enormous puzzle made of PVC pipes and fittings, and held together by hundreds of bolts and nuts. Each piece is uniquely labeled, and a series of complicated, laminated instructions accompanies these bundles of parts on the sea floor just off the aft end of Aquarius. Each part was drilled after it was put in place originally, meaning that each piece only fits in one place in one unique orientation. It can be challenging, frustrating, or fun - sometimes all three at once. Whatever the crewmember's perception, it does require them to think ahead, concentrate on the instructions, use their hands well, and control their bodies with great precision while encumbered with diving gear. When completed, it will stand some 25 feet above the sea bed. That's high enough that our aquanauts will have to exercise care in the final construction that they don't go above their 40 foot depth limit while putting the top on! On this mission, Waterlab construction will take place over the course of several more days. We'll get you some pictures of it once its completed.

Tomorrow features a couple of new CMAS objectives, as well as evaluation of another undersea robot, so stay tuned.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/18/2004
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