The red soil of Mars is all set to become the next big fashion ramp.
With the red planet seeming set to be the next space colony for humans, provided present explorations deem it fit for life, the US space agency Nasa is already working on the wardrobe essentials.
Nasa on Thursday unveiled the first space suit to be worn by astronauts to Mars.
Called Z-2 spacesuit, only a prototype, it will now be incorporated into the suit to be worn by the first humans to reach the Red planet.
The Z-2 will be built using 3D-printed parts and 3D laser scans will ensure each suit fits perfectly.
It will be tested in vacuum chambers at Nasa’s training pool and at a site that imitates the rocky Martian surface.
The suit uses light-emitting patches and luminescent wire that could be customised to identify individuals.
Nasa said “Z-2 suit is the newest prototype in its next-generation spacesuit platform, the Z-series. With the agency laser focused on a path to Mars, work to develop the technologies astronauts one day will use to live and work on Mars has already begun. Each iteration of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first humans to step foot on the red planet”.
There are many key advances to be found in the Z-2 suit when compared to the previous Z-1. The most significant is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso and the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso. This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit will require. The boots are much closer in nature to those that would be found on a suit ready for space, and the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full-vacuum environment.
Besides the typical fit checks and mobility evaluations, Nasa currently is planning a very comprehensive test campaign for the Z-2 suit.
Engineers will conduct multiple vacuum chamber tests, including one series at full vacuum, mimicking the lack of atmosphere found in space.
The suit will be tested at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in the huge indoor pool used to train astronauts to spacewalk.
Further testing at a site at Johnson that imitates the rocky Martian surface will help evaluate the suit’s mobility, comfort and performance. Ultimately, all of these tests will guide engineers in designing the Z-3.
With the Z-2, NASA will employ cover layer design elements, like electroluminescent wiring, never used before in a spacesuit.
This design now will be incorporated into the final version of the suit, which is expected to be ready for testing by November 2014.