Rhode Is­land School of De­sign works with NASA on Mars suit

Bet­ter, more ag­ile suits a re­quire­ment for Mars mis­sion

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

When sci­en­tists are try­ing to fig­ure out how to live in near-iso­la­tion in a dome to sim­u­late a Mars mis­sion, the last thing they’ll need is an ill-fit­ting space suit - so one of the na­tion’s top de­sign schools has come to the res­cue. Staff mem­bers and stu­dents at the Rhode Is­land School of De­sign have come up with a new, ad­justable suit that closely re­sem­bles an ac­tual space suit.

Real space suits are de­signed to work in zero grav­ity, mean­ing they’re too ex­pen­sive and too heavy to use at the NASA-funded Mars sim­u­la­tion mis­sion in Hawaii. The sim­u­lated space suits that are used in­stead wear out quickly and aren’t all that com­fort­able. They’re small and pro­vide poor ven­ti­la­tion. The new suit, un­veiled Mon­day in Prov­i­dence, is ex­pected to be tested dur­ing the next Mars sim­u­la­tion mis­sion in 2017 in Hawaii. A year­long Mars sim­u­la­tion mis­sion ended in Au­gust. It was the fourth HI-SEAS, or Hawaii Space Ex­plo­ration Ana­log and Sim­u­la­tion. NASA funded the study, run through the Univer­sity of Hawaii. An­drzej Ste­wart was the chief en­gi­neer­ing of­fi­cer on that mis­sion. At 6 feet 2, Ste­wart couldn’t zip up the sim­u­lated suits, so he wore a haz­mat suit in­stead, which he said was easy to wear but not very re­al­is­tic.

The en­tire crew saw a need for a bet­ter suit, said Sheyna Gif­ford, the mis­sion’s space doc­tor. A re­al­is­tic suit is im­por­tant, so crew mem­bers can see what ex­per­i­ments they can do and what tools they can use while wear­ing it, and how the habi­tat should be de­signed to ac­com­mo­date it, she said. “What we’re aim­ing for is the best pos­si­ble sim­u­la­tion, to in­form NASA about what we learned on that sim­u­la­tion so they can suc­ceed in the real thing,” she said.

PROV­I­DENCE: In this Mon­day, Dec 5, 2016 photo, An­drzej Ste­wart, the chief en­gi­neer­ing of­fi­cer on a year-long Mars sim­u­la­tion mis­sion that ended in Au­gust, puts on a new space suit at the Rhode Is­land School of De­sign (RISD). — AP

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