Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Captain Nemo & The Aquanauts

Sounds like a Doo-Wop group, eh? But no... it's Visitors-Bearing-Gifts, Continued. My reader & email-buddy Captain Nemo also came to chat one day, bearing yet more Star Trek glasses! (Imagine my relief at not having to suffer BK food to collect the set ;)

Nemo is a bit camera-shy, and of course my blog stories are entirely voluntary -- I would never insist on photos. So instead I'll show you the great gift he brought me... a page from National Geographic detailing a NASA undewater habitat study from the 1970s, autographed by one of the original AquaNauts!

NASA AquaNauts inside Tektite II"To a Pillownaut from a 1970 Aquanaut
With love and admiration, R. True"

The NASA Tektite underwater habitat was inspired by Skylab, and sought to test the possibilites of scientists working under extremely isolated living conditions, such as the moon, spacecrafts, or ocean floor. In 1969, the first team of four AquaNauts spent 58 days conducting marine studies off the coast of the Virgin Islands, the requiring nearly 20 hours of decompression to return to the surface.

In 1970, Tektite II housed 10 missions, each with four scientists an an engineer to pioneer the first in-depth ecological studies. One of these included the first all-female AquaNaut team: Dr. Sylvia Mead, Dr. Renata True (then working at Tulane), and young graduate students from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The conducted medical research to determine blood changes, human research to gauge psychological fitness, and set records for saturation diving.

NASA Tektite II
Dr. Renata True, Ph.D. has degrees in natural history, marine biology and oceanography, and now teaches physiology/anatomy at the College of the Mainland in nearby Texas City. Capt. Nemo took one of True's classes recently, and had the opportunity to discuss the NASA projects with her -- mentioning in passing that he followed the blog of a current test subject also getting a taste of confinement... though nowhere near the confinement of an underwater habitat. That is some serious dedication. I'm so thrilled to have this keepsake from her, and the admiration is all mine!