Back to all Blog posts

Mission Days 9-10: Settling in Undersea

Dawn Kernagis // August 1, 2016

Noel and I splashed down on Friday (Mission Day 9) morning, and 24 hours later we were in full saturation and joined the rest of our crew as official Aquanauts! Before we submerged from the topside world, we had the chance to see Reid and Marc as they splashed up – they gave us a round of hugs and some friendly words of advice before we left the surface 🙂 Marc will continue to work with NEEMO as topside support through the end of the mission. The crew can’t say enough wonderful things about Reid and Marc as teammates, and Reid did an amazing job commanding the first half of the mission.


For Noel and I, after SCUBA diving down to the habitat, we entered the ‘moon pool’, which is where we enter and exit the habitat every time we dive.  As soon as you get out of the water, you have to shower because we don’t want salt water all over the inside of our new home. We towered off and received a safety briefing from Hank, plus a tour of the living space and a heads up on where the good snacks are hidden 🙂 Noel and I were thoughtfully greeted with a welcome note and two homemade cookies, baked by Megan weeks earlier and frozen to be sent down throughout the mission. Megan and Matthias were out for a shorter 2 hour working dive, but they still found a way to make us feel right at home!

Dawn in Habitat

After unpacking and settling in, Noel and I did our first hard hat dive from the habitat. Hank helped us suit up and hatted each of us. We have comms both to the habitat and back to Roger at Aquarius Reef Base on land, keeping us safe and the operation running smoothly! We run safety checks both out of and in the water before leaving for the dive.

Sliding out feet first, we drop to the NASA deck to be checked out for leaks and make sure the gear looks good, then we hop off of the deck onto the sandy bottom, just a little deeper than 60 feet. We add extra weights to make sure we can comfortably work on the bottom and to simulate microgravity….then we are off for the dive!

Noel Splash Down Day 9

For Noel and I, the dive was a chance to get back into the gear and experience diving it from the habitat before we started our working dives. It’s a pretty cool feeling to walk along the sand bottom and be able to talk with the entire team as needed!

Our first night underwater was spectacular as we watched the surrounding ecosystem switch to nightshift! We also tried our hand at cooking Mountain House camp food, which is a main staple in the hab since you can cook it with hot water alone.

Mission Day 10 was my first working dive with Megan – we conducted sampling on previously identified coral for 2 hours. Getting into the work we had been trained to do was such an awesome feeling, and the time absolutely flies by underwater! Matthias and Noel also did a 2 hour EVA, packed on either side with numerous science and operational objectives. It was a hectic day and we were all happy to crawl into our bunks by the end of the evening!


Tomorrow, Mission Day 11, Megan and I do our first 4 hour EVA!