The SeaSpace Exploration & Research Society has selected the aquanaut crew and dive team for Project Poseidon, an unprecedented 100-day undersea research expedition at the Aquarius undersea laboratory. Owned and operated by Florida International University, Aquarius is the world’s only operational undersea laboratory, making it a very unique research platform, that enables aquanauts to live, eat, sleep, and conduct research for extended periods of time without surfacing. The current world record for time spent living in an undersea habitat was set in 2014 at 73 days, making Project Poseidon a historic opportunity to increase our knowledge of the sea, ourselves, and the potential for future undersea habitation. Splashdown is currently scheduled for May 4, 2018.
While the expedition is first and foremost a scientific endeavor, the much larger vision of the project is to reignite public interest in human undersea exploration, and to showcase the benefits and value of conducting in situ research from the ocean floor with a goal of one day establishing a continuous human presence in the ocean, as currently exists in space aboard the International Space Station. Expedition research activities will span the fields of ocean science, human health and performance, biobehavioral performance and group dynamics, engineering, telemedicine, geospatial imaging, space analog research, robotics, and human-machine interaction. Project Poseidon is comprised of a multi-disciplinary team of subject matter experts, scientists, medical professionals, engineers, and explorers, all very accomplished in their respective fields. Mission research will be conducted in collaboration with academic, government, and commercial and private industry partners.
Two notable members of the Project Poseidon aquanaut crew are retired NASA astronauts Dr. Scott Parazynski, the first (and only) astronaut to summit Mt. Everest, and Nicole Stott, the current world record holder for longest saturation dive by a female and a veteran of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission 9 aquanaut crew. Dr. Parazynski joins the mission as a short-duration visiting scientist, while Ms. Stott joins the prime crew for the long-duration effort.
Of equal importance to the success of the mission is its comprehensive education and public outreach program. Project Poseidon and its team of outreach partners are designing a multi- and cross-disciplinary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program that will provide open access learning and outreach activities using a variety of instructional delivery methods in order to maximize the program’s reach and impact. In addition to program-level outreach initiatives, each Project Poseidon crew member will also spearhead their own unique outreach effort based on their area of expertise and own personal interests. With only 24 months to mission splashdown, the Project Poseidon team is wasting no time in mobilizing the public through its outreach efforts, with its first large-scale outreach initiative, a virtual summer camp for children ages 8-18, set to begin on June 13, 2016. The virtual summer camp is free and available to anyone with an Internet connection.
According to Jamie Guined, the visioneer behind Project Poseidon, “This mission is being designed to facilitate a greater understanding of the link and synergy that exists between the human exploration of sea and space, to inspire a new generation of explorers and scientists by creating ways for people to get involved with the mission at many levels, and to lead the way towards the establishment of a continuous human presence in ocean. If we look to the success of the International Space Station as an example of what can be accomplished by learning to live and work in an extreme environment, just think of the technological and scientific breakthroughs that await us by learning to live and work on the ocean floor!”
Those selected to join the Project Poseidon aquanaut crew and dive team include: Angela Bostwick, Dr. Jeffrey Bozanic, Deniz Burnham, CDR Joseph Dituri, Henrik Enckell, Jamie Guined, Terina Hancock, Michael Jones, Blake Keller, Jessica Keller, Dr. Derek Nusbaum, Dr. Shawna Pandya, Dr. Scott Parazynski, CPT Linda Roehrborn, Alexandra Rose, Brian Shiro, Nicole Stott, Dr. Lee von Kraus, and Rebecca Ziegler. The team is organized into prime and backup crews, with prime crew members assigned to rotations aboard Aquarius ranging from two weeks to the full 100 days, and the backup crew members filling operational roles on the surface and as support divers.
Project Poseidon will announce its long-duration crew members during its first press conference and public ’Meet & Greet’ on Thursday, September 15, 2016 beginning at 2:00 pm CDT at the annual Sea, Earth, and Space Summit held at the Galveston Island Convention Center in Galveston, Texas.