PHOTOS: USF researcher returns from NASA mission in Florida Keys

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 05, 2017, 3:18 PM EDT

University of South Florida researcher Dr. Dominic D’Agostino has returned from a 10-day NASA mission in the Florida Keys.

D’Agostino was one of four crew members selected for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 22 expedition.

The NEEMO 22 crew spent 10 days in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary located six miles off the coast of Key Largo, simulating a deep space mission with similar objectives to exploration on Mars.

Living and working at the bottom of the ocean mimics the harsh, microgravity environment astronauts would experience in space.

The crew conducted simulated spacewalks, tested time delays in communication, and evaluated a variety of tools and procedures to be used in future space missions.

Researchers will be looking at if and how a habitat environment impacts body composition, gut microbiome, sleep and stress, and psychological, cognitive, and sensory.

Dr. D’Agostino was selected for his research conducted at the USF Hyperbaric Biomedical Research Laboratory (HBRL) on how extreme environments impact the human body. One of the countermeasures developed is a method to induce and sustain nutritional ketosis with ketone supplement formulations. Nutritional ketosis shifts the body’s metabolic state to burn fat rather than glucose as its primary fuel.

He was the only member not affiliated with National Aeronautics and Space Administration or European Space Agency.

D’Agostino’s decompression period was 18 hours, which allowed him to safely return to the surface.

He took blood, urine, and saliva samples prior to and throughout the missing and will compare that to post-mission data to see if they return to normal.