The next NASA mission for astronaut Peggy Whitson, an Iowa native, will not be in outer space, but under water. Whitson will lead a two-week mission, 60 feet underwater near Key Largo. The facility’s called “The Aquarius” and returning to the surface takes about a day and a half because they have to decompress. Whitson says they’ll conduct experiments on Aquarius, trying underwater to simulate some of the things that happen to the human body in outer space. But Whitson’s most excited about the research she’ll be doing, looking at the coral reefs. Whitson’s underwater mission will happen soon. Whitson’s not sure of the exact date, but says the trip to the Florida Keys will happen in June. Whitson spoke at Mt. Ayr High School on Friday night — she’s a Mt. Ayr grad — and she continues her southern Iowa speaking tour this week. Whitson grew up in Beaconsfield, which is near Mt. Ayr. (Whitson speaks at Martensdale-St. Mary’s today; at Indianola Wednesday; Bedford on Thursday; and Mount Pleasant on Friday.
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