This Spacesuit for Exploring Mars Is a Form-Fitting Math Problem

From Wired, January 7, 2014

In science fiction, from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Ender’s Game, astronauts zip around zero-g environments clad in stylish, skin-tight spacesuits. In reality, outfits designed for outer space are bulky, hard to maneuver, and have all the charm of adult diapers. Even their name, Extravehicular Mobility Units, or EMUs, is clumsy.

Enter Dava Newman, fashion designer to the stars. You won’t see her work on the red carpet, but if this MIT professor has her way, all the most fashionable space explorers will be wearing her designs when they set foot on the red planet.

For a mission to Mars to succeed, off-world explorers desperately need a new wardrobe to deal with the planet’s unique challenges. In humanity’s entire spacefaring existence, there have been 514 extravehicular space walks, but a single, multi-year mission to Mars will require over 1,000.

On the ground, astronauts will be expected to explore extreme environments like the Olympus Mons, a volcano the size of Arizona that’s nearly three times the height of Mount Everest. Suits will need to be easier to don and doff, provide greater freedom of movement, and be comfortable for long haul journeys. Newman’s solution is called the BioSuit and looks a bit like a superhero’s costume, but it’s actually just a form-fitting math problem.

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