NOAA RESEARCHER JOINS WITH ASTRONAUTS TO TEST MOON EXPLORATION CONCEPTS ON THE SEAFLOOR
July 21, 2006 — To pursue similarities in ocean and lunar exploration technologies, a NOAA ocean researcher will team with three astronauts from July 22 to 28, on a mission to Aquarius, NOAA's undersea laboratory off the coast of Florida. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the undersea lab Aquarius off the coast of Key Largo, Fla. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Karen Kohanowich, NOAA program manager for Aquarius, will join mission leader Astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA astronauts Andrew J. Feustel and Karen L. Nyberg, and Aquarius technicians Mark Hulsbeck and Dominic Landucci of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
This is the tenth mission to use Aquarius as a space analog in a joint venture between NOAA and NASA.
The mission will include "lunar coral" sampling and mapping procedures, techniques for using remote-controlled robots on the moon's surface, and undersea extra-vehicular activities imitating moonwalks to test concepts for mobility using weighted backpacks to simulate lunar and Martian gravity. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Karen Kohanowich, deputy director of the NOAA Undersea Research Program, at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where the team trained. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)
will use this opportunity to build on its undersea research efforts
and interagency partnership successes," said Kohanowich, deputy
director of the NOAA Undersea Research
Program. "Humans working in space or under the ocean face similar
challenges of lack of oxygen, weightlessness, remoteness, extreme pressure
differentials and cramped quarters. Many techniques, technologies and
skills necessary to work underwater can be adapted for lunar research,
and vice versa," she said. "These missions also are a great
example of how the Aquarius complex is uniquely suited for a wide range
of research applications."
team spent a week at Johnson Space Center becoming familiar with mission
equipment, procedures and timeline. After the training, Kohanowich was
asked about similarities and differences between the work of a diver
and astronaut. "I'm drawn to the exploration and challenge of both
outer space and the deep ocean," she said. "For me, exploring
the ocean is filled with surprises and discoveries throughout the entire
volume of undersea space. You can't see the ocean floor until you reach
it, and once there, you can't see it all at once as you can with satellite
photos of planets and moons. The promise of ocean discovery is in every
step one takes, and that intrigue is what draws me down rather than
up." (Click NOAA image for larger view of Karen Kohanowich,
deputy director of the NOAA Undersea Research Program, getting ready
for more training near the undersea lab Aquarius off the coast of Key
Largo, Fla. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Kohanowich became manager for the Aquarius program in April 2005. Previously, she was a U.S. Navy deep sea diver and oceanographer, and retired as a commander after 23 years of service. Early in her career, Kohanowich supported 1,000 FSW (feet of sea water) saturation dives at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Karen Kohanowich, deputy director of the NOAA Undersea Research Program, testing her diving equipment as she trained for her upcoming mission near the undersea lab Aquarius off the coast of Key Largo, Fla. Please credit “NOAA.”)
In 2007, NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners and more than 60 countries to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes.
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