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US Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
VIDEO: In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. VOA’s George Putic has more.
George Putic

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, located 19 meters beneath the surface, some five kilometers off Key Largo, four U.S. astronauts prepare to visit an asteroid.

Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean waters, the four astronauts simulate the daily routine of a crew that would someday travel to collect samples from rocks orbiting the earth.

Part of NASA's Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program, which is designed to test concepts related to future visits to near-Earth asteroids, the team is spending nine days within the 37-square-meter lab called Aquarius, which is operated by Florida International University.

By conducting experiments and testing equipment and procedures, Astronaut Janette Epps says the group is recreating as close as possible the expected deep space mission.

“Commander Aki and I, we had to get ready to go out to do one of the mock spacewalks that we do underwater, and that took a little bit of time to get up and running because we had a few issues with communication in our helmets so that we can be able to talk to the crew inside the habitat and the topside," said Epps, explaining that she and her colleagues often encounter real-life problems.

Living about 60 beneath the surface means they do not have to decompress each time they venture out of Aquarius, and can conduct longer dives.

While inside the lab, they conduct science experiments focused on human health and behavior.

“We’re all wearing badges that track, together with other parameters, our proximity or social interaction, for understanding better which reactions people have in such close environments to apply this knowledge for future exploration missions," said astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

And the cosmic quartet isn't alone. Two "aquanauts," technicians with extensive knowledge and experience in the undersea lab, are also on board. They take care that all on-board systems function properly, including the mock spacesuits.

Mission commander and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide says they know everything about the facility.

“They are the people behind the scenes," he said. "We just do the mission but without their help we can’t do anything." 

Project NEEMO is one of NASA’s so-called "analog missions," whose goal is to train astronauts for the extreme environments they may encounter during future space explorations.

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Comment Sorting
by: Babu G. Ranganathan
July 27, 2014 12:36 PM
SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing net energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal.

The law of entropy doesn't allow the universe to be eternal. If the universe were eternal, everything, including time (which modern science has shown is as physical as mass and space), would have become totally entropied by now and the entire universe would have ended in a uniform heat death a long, long time ago. The fact that this hasn't happened already is powerful evidence for a beginning to the universe.

Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe had a beginning and came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That's not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn't mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn't mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

Some things don’t need experiment or scientific proof. In law there is a dictum called prima facie evidence. It means “evidence that speaks for itself.”

An example of a true prima facie would be if you discovered an elaborate sand castle on the beach. You don’t have to experiment to know that it came by design and not by the chance forces of wind and water.

If you discovered a romantic letter or message written in the sand, you don’t have to experiment to know that it was by design and not because a stick randomly carried by wind put it there. You naturally assume that an intelligent and rational being was responsible.

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