(Longueuil, Quebec, June 10, 2014) Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Jeremy Hansen has explored impact craters in the High Arctic and lived and trained in deep caves. Now he’s found a new way to challange his body and his mind. Jeremy will spend 7 days under 19 metres of water in extreme conditions that closely resemble a space environment. As well as testing exploration concepts, he will take part in spacewalk simulations, and will evaluate tools and techniques for exploration tasks in varying levels of gravity ranging from that of asteroids to the gravity of Martian moons and Mars itself.

These activities are all part of the NEEMO 19 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) analogue mission set to begin September 7, 2014. NEEMO 19 is a multi-disciplinary team that will take part in the 7-day mission aboard Aquarius, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  underwater facility. Aquarius is located 19 metres below the surface, 5.6 kilometres off Key Largo in the Florida Keys. NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen and and Herve Stevenin, ESA’s Head of Extravehicular Activity Training at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, will also be part of the crew.

The rationale for these missions is based on the similarity of the undersea laboratory Aquarius’ environment to that aboard the International Space Station.

“NEEMO missions are a challenging and exciting aspect of astronaut training,” said Hansen in a prepared statement. “The research we conduct during those missions allows us to test new technologies and exploration concepts in conditions similar to the ones we’ll experience in space. They are a great opportunity to help me expand my knowledge and develop new tools for future space exploration.”

The interior of the habitat is similar in size to modules of the station. It provides a convincing analog to space exploration–as long as you ignorew the fish adn other sealife.. Much like space, the undersea world is a hostile, alien place for humans to live. NEEMO crew members experience some of the same tasks and challenges underwater as they would in space including delays in their communications with the surface. Jeremy will be the fifth Canadian astronaut to be a crew member of a NEEMO mission.

David Saint-Jacques took part in NEEMO 15 (2011), Chris Hadfield served as commander of NEEMO 14 (2010), Dave Williams participated in NEEMO 1 (2001) and NEEMO 9 (2006), and Robert Thirsk took part in NEEMO 7 (2004).

NEEMO missions are designed to test equipment and techniques applicable to space exploration. The crews live aboard the Aquarius laboratory, venturing from it on simulated spacewalks where they can perform research and drills pertinent to mission objectives.

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