"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Underwater astronaut on the Moon
ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and ESA astronaut instructor Hervé Stevenin slipped into the roles of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin last week for an underwater simulation of the historic mission to the Moon.
Training astronauts underwater is an effective way of getting used to the sensations of working in weightlessness for long periods.
Last week the underwater training concept was extended by French deep-diving specialists Comex to simulate gravity on the Moon. Lunar gravity can be simulated by adjusting the astronaut’s buoyancy – our Moon has a sixth of the gravity we feel on Earth.
Initial tests were performed in one of Comex’s pools in Marseille, France before the two moonwalk simulations in the Mediterranean Sea off Marseille on 4 September.
During the mission, several soil samples were collected by the aquanauts with similar tools used on the Moon by the Apollo 11 crew.
Jean-Francois is an experienced astronaut who has flown on three space missions on the Space Shuttle, including travelling to Russia’s Mir space station and repairing the Hubble space telescope.
Their expertise offered valuable feedback for the engineers, operators, test conductors and support divers on the simulation programme.
This underwater test was a first step towards developing European expertise in spacewalk simulations under partial gravity for exploring the Moon, asteroids and Mars.
Image credit: Alexis Rosenfeld