Communications training for a return to the moon takes place at Aquarius

Whether one is diving on the ocean floor or walking on the surface of the moon, successful communication with mission control is key.

Experts at the Medina Aquarius Program trained with NASA from Sept. 7-20 as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) Capability Test, which simulated the infrastructure and communication necessary to return to the moon.

The NEEMO Capability Test focused on evaluating the stability, clarity and volume of diver audio and video communication between point-to-point networks. To accomplish this, divers linked to a point-to-point network on the boat to the Life Support Buoy, which in turn streamed audio and video to networks at both the FIU Aquarius Shore Base facility in Islamorada, Fla. and a simulated mission control center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Mission participants received extensive training in the use of surface-supplied diving equipment. This mode of diving supplies the diver with air via an umbilical connected to the diving helmet. The umbilical also serves as a conduit for hardwired audio and video communication between the diver and the network aboard the Life Support Buoy.

The training provided by the FIU Aquarius team isn’t just for NASA. As part of the Aquarius Advanced Training Program, FIU is now offering Introduction to Surface-Supplied Diving – a three-day, non-credit specialized diving course for professional divers.

“Our vision is that in addition to providing diving operation supervision, oversight, saturation diver training and logistical support for our clients like NASA, the Aquarius Program will also become a hub for advanced and specialized diver training to provide marine scientists and other professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to utilize specialized diving equipment and resources,” said Diving Safety Officer and Aquarius Operations Director Roger Garcia. “This will provide more opportunities to accomplish complex research and work in the marine environment.”

The courses offered by the Aquarius Advanced Training Program aim to provide opportunities for divers to advance their skills so that they can safely perform complex research underwater, recognize, stabilize and treat diving-related injuries and familiarize themselves with specialized diving gear they may not have access to anywhere else.

In part because of the conservation and research conducted through the Medina Aquarius Program, FIU’s Institute of Environment, the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, FIU is ranked No. 11 in the world for Impact on Life Below Water by Times Higher Education.

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