NASA has sent four astronauts to live 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean for the next nine days to test technologies and training techniques for use aboard the International Space Station and other long-duration exploration missions.
In a statement, NASA said the mission, NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 18, "will focus on behavioral health and performance, human health issues, and habitability."
The NEEMO crew and two professional habitat technicians submerged themselves into Florida International University's undersea research habitat Aquarius Reef Base, located about 6 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.
During past missions, astronauts developed techniques to live, collect samples, and conduct research in extreme environments. The bottom of the ocean simulates low gravity environments such as the space station, asteroids and planets future robotic and human explorers will encounter.