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NASA astronauts train underwater to mimic Mars mission

NASA has sent a team of astronauts to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on a 16-day mission to prepare for future deep space missions and the journey to Mars.

The “aquanauts” were sent to train undersea in simulated space mission as the bottom of a blue ocean and the surface of a Red Planet have something in common — extreme environments.

During the 16-day NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 21 expedition beginning July 21, an international crew will explore tools and techniques being tested for future space exploration by living in simulated spacecraft conditions and conducting simulated spacewalks outside of their undersea habitat, Aquarius, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.

The Aquarius Reef Base is located 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 

Isolating crew members at the bottom of the ocean simulates life and work for astronauts in microgravity environments like the International Space Station, or in spacecraft that will travel to asteroids and planets in the future, NASA said.

“NEEMO 21 astronauts and crew will pioneer complex tasks on the seafloor utilising the most advanced underwater navigation and science tools which are methodically choreographed to mimic a Mars exploration traverse,” said NEEMO Project Lead Bill Todd. 

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