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Rhode Island School of Design and NASA Test New Mars Suit [VIDEO]

Dec 07, 2016 04:20 AM EST
Astronaut Tanner On Space Walk
Students from Rhode Island School of Design created a new Mars suit for use during the HI-SEAS Mars simulation in Hawaii next year.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

Some say that in order to do the job well, a worker has to be dressed for the part. The same goes for the HI-SEAS Mars simulation experiment in Hawaii. NASA collaborated with the Rhode Island Schools of Design (RISD) in creating a new Mars suit that isn't too heavy and way more comfortable for the use during the simulation practice in 2017.

Reports say that the recently concluded isolation experiment that took place in Hawaii was somehow obstructed by an ill-fitting space suit. This is the reason why NASA tapped the Rhode Island School of Design to help re-engineer the existing space suit to make it suitable for isolation and simulation practices here on Earth.

The new Mars suit designed by RISD students resembles a real space suit, but with features that could actually work here on Earth. Otherwise, it would be too heavy and uncomfortable for the participants of the simulation experiment to use an actual space suit designed to work in zero gravity.

The new Mars suits are retrofitted to work in the simulation environment in Hawaii that NASA is also funding. Last Monday, Dec. 5, the Mars suit was unveiled and is ready for its maiden experimental testing in Hawaii next year. Professor Michael Lye leads the design team that created the new suit, according to a report.

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program is conducting the Mars simulation in partnership with NASA to prepare scientists for the Journey to Mars. Andrzej Stewart is expected to use the new Mars suit during the simulation. His opinions and observations will greatly help in designing the actual suit that will be worn by the first batch of Martian colonizers.

"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," Shyena Gifford, the mission's medical expert said in a statement. The simulation will help determine the amount of flexibility and usability the Mars suit will offer to astronaut and how it will help or hinder them in doing space work.

Initial testing by Stweart who was able to try on the new suit confirmed the good ventilation and communication systems of the suit. The suit will be sent to Hawaii in preparation for the training in 2017.


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