Treasure Coast researcher part of NASA mission underwater

Posted: 5:03 PM, Jun 03, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-04 13:21:49-04

FAU Harbor Branch oceanographic professor Shirley Pomponi is going to help launch U.S. astronauts to deep space.

She'll leave in a week for the Florida Keys where she'll take part in the next Aquarius Nemo mission. The Aquarius is NASA's underwater research lab.

"It is a huge, big deal for me," said Pomponi. "I am a NASA groupie. We are going to be with astronauts. How cool is that?"

Pomponi will be part of a team comprised NASA astronauts that will spend 10 days 62 feet underwater off Key Largo. They will be conducting experiments that will help the next lunar launch.

"Part of what we are doing is testing out instruments and procedures so that those are all worked out here on Earth before we put astronauts in the space station, or on the Moon, or on Mars," said Pomponi.

It's all part of the Trump Administration's plan to put humans back on the Moon as early as 2024. To do that, the Aquarius team will test things underwater because it is a similar atmosphere that the astronauts will have in space.

Pomponi said they will be doing psychological tests on how they can handle the workload, stress, and their ability to think after long days outside the lab.

The Aquarius mission will launch on June 12.