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Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

At the bottom of a very dark swimming pool, divers are getting ready for missions to the Moon. Take a look at this a recent test in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

NASA astronauts are no strangers to extreme environments. We best prepare our astronauts by exposing them to training environments here on Earth that simulate the 1/6th gravity, suit mobility, lighting and lunar terrain they’ll expect to see on a mission to the Moon. Practice makes perfect.

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center is where astronauts train for spacewalks, and soon, moonwalks.

When astronauts go to the Moon’s South Pole through NASA’s Artemis program, the Sun will only be a few degrees over the horizon, creating long, dark shadows. To recreate this environment, divers at the lab turned off the lights, put up black curtains on the pool walls to minimize reflection, and used powerful underwater lamps to simulate the environment astronauts might experience on lunar missions.

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

These conditions replicate the dark, long shadows astronauts could see and lets them evaluate the different lighting configurations. The sand at the bottom is common pool filter sand with some other specialized combinations in the mix.

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

This was a test with divers in SCUBA gear to get the lighting conditions right, but soon, NASA plans to conduct tests in this low-light environment using spacesuits.

Kill the lights – We’re Simulating a Moonwalk!

Neutral buoyancy is the equal tendency of an object to sink or float. Through a combination of weights and flotation devices, an item is made to be neutrally buoyant and it will seem to “hover” under water. In such a state, even a heavy object can be easily manipulated, much as it is in the zero gravity of space, but will still be affected by factors such as water drag.

The Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory is 202 ft in length, 102 ft in width and 40 ft in depth (20 ft above ground level and 20 ft below) and holds 6.2 million gallons of water.

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