From May 10 to 23, 2010

Tether, Fall Restraint, & Ladder Angle Evaluations

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations project, known as NEEMO, sends groups of astronauts, engineers, doctors and professional divers to live in an underwater habitat for up to three weeks at a time. These crew members, called aquanauts, live in Aquarius, the world's only undersea laboratory, located 3.5 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Fla.

As the commander, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Chris Hadfield led the crew of NEEMO 14, a NASA Undersea Mission to test exploration concepts in an undersea environment off the Florida coast.

NEEMO 14 used the ocean floor to simulate exploration missions to the surface of asteroids, moons and Mars. The mission was designed to gain a better understanding of how astronaut crews interact with equipment including advanced spacesuits, a lander, a rover and robotic arms. The crew lived aboard Aquarius venturing from it on simulated spacewalks, operating the robotic arm and manoeuvring the vehicles much like would be done when setting up a habitat on another planet.

Mission Facts

  • 14th NEEMO mission (first ever NEEMO mission was in 2001)
  • Splashdown: May 10, 2010
  • Return: May 23, 2010

The Crew

  • Chris Hadfield, CSA Astronaut and Commander
  • Dr. Tom Marshburn, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astronaut
  • Steve Chappell, Research Specialist
  • Andrew Abercromby, Lunar Electric Rover Deputy Project Manager


Two National Undersea Research Center (NURC) employees accompanied the NEEMO crew into saturation. Their primary responsibilities were the operation of the Aquarius on-board systems and the safety of the aquanauts.

Watch Desk

The watch desk is the NURC version of NASA's Mission Control Center. It was located onshore and was staffed by a team of two employees 24 hours a day during the mission. Watch desk personnel were primarily responsible for the overall safety of the mission, monitoring the telemetry of the facility and approving all of the aquanaut dive plans.

Behavioral Health and Performance Studies

  • Cognitive Performance and Stress in a Simulated Space Environment
  • Effects of High vs. Low Autonomy on Space Crewmember Performance
  • A Scheduling and Planning Tool in NEEMO 14 Measures of Team Cohesion, Team Dynamics, and Leadership in a Simulated Environment
  • Sleep/Wake Measures in a Space Analog Environment

Human Health Countermeasures (HHC) Studies

  • Advance Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Exploration Activities Study to Assess Human Performance Responses in Partial Gravity Environments
  • Immune Assessment During a Short-duration Spaceflight – Analog Undersea Mission

Kennedy Space Center Studies

  • Cardiac Adapted Sleep Parameters Electrocardiogram Recorder (CASPER) Monitoring During NEEMO 14 Expedition aboard Aquarius Undersea Habitat
  • Continuous Real-time Hemodynamic Noninvasive Monitoring During NEEMO 14 Expedition aboard Aquarius Undersea Habitat

By conducting these studies in and outside of Aquarius, NASA's scientists and engineers can provide for the health and safety of astronauts and others involved in long duration, extreme environment endeavors.


The physical and psychological isolation of the Aquarius habitat closely mirrors the isolation that can occur during space exploration. Communication between astronauts and Mission Control is highly important, but during future long duration missions, there will be times where this communication may not be available. Therefore, crews must be able to work independently from the mission control team.

NEEMO missions offer the opportunity to test new techniques for telecommunications. Aquanauts and engineers work to develop new ways to interact with researchers from a remote laboratory location, much like they do with the space station. In addition, they have tested new communication technology for use when a space walking crew is working at a significant distance from the laboratory.

Strong emphasis is placed on exercising team building and leadership skills among the NEEMO crews, which enables them to continue working efficiently when they are unable to communicate with a mission control center. It is important to practice the plans, procedures and training that are vital to long duration exploration missions when there is the possibility of less direct communication with mission control.