National Geographic : 1971 Aug
Homeward bound from an afternoon's work, members of the women's team glide through gathering dusk toward the habitat, shown here in a detailed cut away. Wearing a nearly bubble-free diving device that cleans and re-oxygen ates air for rebreathing, the upper diver homes in on the habitat by training a direction finder on a sonic pinger in the shelter. A reserve air tank rides atop the rebreather, its mouthpiece ready for emergency use. The lower diver, carry ing a plastic sample bag, trails bubbles from conventional scuba gear. A third aquanaut (lower right in fold out) passes through a barred shark gate -a barrier that proved unnecessary. An always-open hatch leads up into the THIS PAGE FOLDS OUT habitat, where air at 21/2 times surface pressure holds back the sea. A diver towels off after a freshwater shower; above her, an air conditioner circulates the habitat's atmosphere of 9 percent oxygen and 91 percent nitro gen. The breathing mixture recirculates through a "scrubber" that chemically removes carbon dioxide; fresh air is added from the surface. Cylindrical tun nel leads to the bridge, or control room, in the chamber at left. There the fifth aquanaut monitors communications and life-support systems. Below her are com fortable living quarters. On the sea floor scientists studying the effects of grazing have set up a wire cage to protect plants from large fish. PAINTING(FOLDOUT)BYPIERREMION: EKTACHROMES) N.G .S. Housekeeping on the bottom of the sea AS SUCCESSIVE FIVE-MAN missions descended into the hostile sea, the teams found that their new home offered many amenities: a pleasant 80° F. temperature, wall-to-wall car peting, hot and cold running water, stereo, tele vision-and, outside, a gargantuan swimming pool and aquarium. Air conditioning main tained the humidity at a healthy 40 percent. In the habitat control room (above), Mis sion 1 engineer Ed Batutis checks television screens that provide face-to-face contact with monitoring personnel topside. Window at ex treme left frames two support-team divers. Striking up a friendship with the natives (left), Mission 10 engineer Todd Atkinson feeds grouper that learned to beg at the habitat en trance. Their favorite foods: lima beans and tinned oysters. The hatch displays the emblem 262 261 of Tektite's self-styled "Mickey Mouse Crew." Mission 10 teammates (right) scorn canned music for Richard Heckman's singing. Left to right: Richard Chesher, Morgan Wells, and Lawrence McCloskey. The fifth member of the group, National Geographic photographer Bates Littlehales, stayed below for the entire 20 days of the mission. When the all-woman team, Mission 6, took its turn in the dwelling (upper right), engineer Margaret Ann Lucas, right, and biologist Alina Szmant decorated the habitat with a crusading mobile. The women's reactions to isolation, like the men's, underwent constant TV scrutiny by NASA-sponsored psychologists, who will use their observations in planning future space missions. Tektite rules permitted only brief intrusions by outside photographers.