Under the Sea: YSU grad studies space in underwater lab - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Under the Sea: YSU grad studies space in underwater lab

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Graff, second from right Graff, second from right
Graff, left Graff, left
KEY LARGO, FL -

A Youngstown State University graduate is testing the waters of future space explorations by submerging himself in research off of the coast of Key Largo, Florida. 

Trevor Graff is a NASA scientist who was chosen to spend 10 days 62 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in a one-of-a-kind underwater laboratory.

Graff graduated YSU in 1999 with two Bachelor's degrees – one in geology and the other in earth science – and earned his Master's degree in geological sciences in 2003 from Arizona State University. 

He is now a planetary scientist who specializes in robotics and as of June 18, is spending time researching space underwater. 

He's living in a lab named Aquarius, which was designed to help future astronauts prepare for space missions. 

Graff is one of the crew members of NEEMO 22, or the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations, which do their research in Aquarius. 

NEEMO 22 was created to provide NASA with research related to long-duration space travel. This sort of research would assist scientists in understanding the effects space has on the human body before sending people to distant space missions or long-term assignments.

While Graff's field of expertise is traditionally focused on planets themselves, he and his NEEMO 22 crew are spending their time underwater conducting experiments that replicate what scientists believe experiments on planetary surfaces would be like. 

NASA is working alongside Florida International University's Marine Science Department on this project to not only gather research involving space, but also research marine biology in the area around Aquarius. 

The aquanauts of Aquarius will measure and collect coral samples that will be used by those at Florida International University in scientific papers.

"It's kind of like the ultimate pinnacle," Graff told NASA in an interview. "Just the dive experience itself is amazing, but to then go out and do the science that I've been organizing for the past few years... it's going to be really cool."

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