An Irish doctor is one of six people who have been asked to join an underwater NASA mission in Florida later this month.
Dr Marc Ó Gríofa will live for eight days in a research station 19 meters under the Atlantic Ocean, overseeing the deployment, research and development of several related life sciences projects.
The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations program, or NEEMO, studies the tools and techniques being tested for future space exploration. The six crew members will live in simulated spacecraft conditions under the sea and will follow a daily timeline similar to astronauts on a space mission.
Speaking on RTÉ's "Morning Ireland," Dr Ó Gríofa said: "If you imagine a small space station stuck on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 square feet. You have six people effectively crammed down into this tiny little space.
"You have sleeping conditions where you have three bunks, one on top of the other. You have a small galley where food can be prepared.
"You have a science lab where everything from DNA sequencing to communications for underwater space walks can be done."
Ó Gríofa studied medicine at University College Dublin before completing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Limerick, and has carried out aerospace medicine and biomedical research at the Kennedy Space Center, RTE reports.
With Dr Derek O'Keeffe from NUI Galway, he conducted an experiment for monitoring sleep disturbance and stability in weightlessness – the first Irish experiment on board the space shuttle and International Space Station in 2006.
On his upcoming mission, Dr Ó Gríofa said: "This NEEMO mission has brought together leading researchers from NASA, ESA and other organizations to collaborate on some very exciting scientific projects,"
"The research that we are conducting in telemedicine, epigenetics, remotely operated underwater vehicles and telomere regeneration not only have a direct application to contributing to future spaceflight missions but create the building blocks for significant advances in conventional medicine and technology."
"Participation in this mission also highlights the tremendous contribution that Irish researchers make to such exciting scientific studies and highlight what our next steps should be both in space and here on earth."
Dr Ó Gríofa has been involved in research activities around NEEMO missions previously, but has never lived on board the undersea capsule. He will be joined by other researchers and NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman and Megan McArthur Behnken.