"NASA evacuated a crew of astronauts Wednesday from an underwater lab off the coast of Florida where they were training for a trip to an asteroid, due to the approach of Hurricane Rina. "Crew decompressed overnight and will return to surface shortly. Hurricane Rina just a little too close for comfort," the US space agency said in a message on the microblogging site Twitter. The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) team climbed aboard support boats that were waiting at the surface and they were expected to be on dry land by 9:00 am (1300 GMT)."
Keith's 11:05 am EDT note: Nothing from NASA PAO on this. Just a picture on Twitter and this tweet "Crew has left Aquarius on their way to the awaiting support boats. On dry land soon." (earlier Tweet here)
I find it to be rather odd how NASA JSC PAO did not bother to tell anyone about this the way they tell people about everything else. Decompression for a return to the surface takes 17-18 hours - so they made this decision early yesterday afternoon - yet no one at JSC PAO said anything at the time. That is a deliberate decision to withhold information from the public - for no obvious reason.
If something similar happened on a shuttle mission or on the ISS, you know that NASA PAO would have been all over this - and not releasing that information would cause a firestorm in the media. Perhaps this is not as good of an analog of space travel as some would think since JSC PAO is either out of the loop or, as it seems, part of a deliberate plan to withhold critical information by NASA JSC managers. This is not a good sign of how missions of exploration should be conducted in the future.
"The six aquanauts of the NEEMO crew left the facility, where they lived for five days, and returned to the surface of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo on Wednesday morning."
Keith's 12:35 pm EDT note: 22 or so hours after decompression began (and one would expect 24 or more hours after a decision was made to evacuate NEEMO) NASA JSC PAO finally gets around to issuing a press release.