Spacesuits of the future may resemble a streamlined second skin.
For future astronauts, the process of suiting up may go something like this: Instead of climbing into a conventional, bulky, gas-pressurized suit, an astronaut may don a lightweight, stretchy garment, lined with tiny, musclelike coils. She would then plug in to a spacecraft’s power supply, triggering the coils to contract and essentially shrink-wrap the garment around her body.
The skintight, pressurized suit would not only support the astronaut, but would give her much more freedom to move during planetary exploration. To take the suit off, she would only have to apply modest force, returning the suit to its looser form.
Now MIT researchers are one step closer to engineering such an active, “second-skin” spacesuit: Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, and her colleagues have engineered active compression garments that incorporate small, springlike coils that contract in response to heat. The coils are made from a shape-memory alloy (SMA) — a type of material that “remembers” an engineered shape and, when bent or deformed, can spring back to this shape when heated.
The team incorporated the coils in a tourniquet-like cuff, and applied a current to generate heat. At a certain trigger temperature, the coils contract to their “remembered” form, such as a fully coiled spring, tightening the cuff in the process. In subsequent tests, the group found that the pressure produced by the coils equaled that required to fully support an astronaut in space.
“With conventional spacesuits, you’re essentially in a balloon of gas that’s providing you with the necessary one-third of an atmosphere [of pressure,] to keep you alive in the vacuum of space,” says Newman, who has worked for the past decade to design a form-fitting, flexible spacesuit of the future. “We want to achieve that same pressurization, but through mechanical counterpressure — applying the pressure directly to the skin, thus avoiding the gas pressure altogether. We combine passive elastics with active materials. … Ultimately, the big advantage is mobility, and a very lightweight suit for planetary exploration.”
The Latest on: Spacesuits
via Google News
The Latest on: Spacesuits
- Tide partners with NASA to create detergent for astronauts and help save water on Earthon June 22, 2021 at 6:16 am
Tide to Go is going to outer space. Tide detergent is partnering with NASA to keep astronauts' spacesuits clean, even if they travel to Mars. The Procter & Gamble brand is hoping for technological ...
- Spacewalkers unfurl first of six new space station solar arrayson June 20, 2021 at 5:04 pm
Astronauts Thomas Pesquet and Shane Kimbrough floated outside the International Space Station Sunday on a spacewalk to complete deployment and unrolling of a new solar array blanket after encountering ...
- This fabric inspired from spacesuits is keeping racers cool, improve lap timeon June 15, 2021 at 3:19 am
Amateur racer Fiona James used the phase-change material and bonded it with another fire-retardant material to design underwear for race car drivers that showed better performance due to heat control ...
- NASA designs new spacesuits for next lunar mission in 2024on June 8, 2021 at 12:32 pm
When astronauts explore the vast expanse of outer space, they need to wear high-tech spacesuits to protect them from the frigid conditions of the cosmos. Hollywood movies have glamorized the ...
- New spacesuits designed for NASA's next moonwalkon June 8, 2021 at 11:09 am
NASA's next spacesuits will be outfitted with latest technology to help astronauts explore the moon's rough terrain in 2024.
via Bing News