Clemson forum may help decide design of future space suits

y of travel to Mars is unequaled in the annals of science and technology. The initial flight itself will take three years, with astronauts expected to stay on the planet1s surface for up to 500 days.

"We're going to have to have materials that can be repaired and regenerated," said Dooley. "It's not like you can bring it back and fix it."

For example, the Mars suits will be in constant use during planet exploration, requiring them to be of unusually durable material that will withstand sharp edge abrasions, punctures, dust adhesion and even ultra-violet effects. And unlike the moon, Mars has an atmosphere and gravity, which means the suits can't simply be updated versions of what has been used on previous missions to the moon.

Gravity will also subject the astronauts to a greater potential for fatigue, which means that suits must be far lighter and more ergonomic than the 200-pound-plus behemoths used in the Apollo moon missions.

Astronauts will likely require more robotic assistance than in past missions, so the suits will have to function as part of a system with those machines. A key challenge will be the construction and design of rovers and robotic assistants, which are reliable, durable and of seamless interaction with the astronaut.


Contact: Sandy Dees
Clemson University

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