Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Students fashion space suits for Mars

24.05.2004


As if getting to Mars wasn’t hard enough, astronauts also have to worry about what to wear when they arrive. Their concerns are not fashion pundits but exposure to micrometeor sandstorms, radiation, and a hyper-cold climate.



However, three undergraduate students at the University of Alberta - Jennifer Marcy, Ann Shalanski, and Matthew Yarmuch - addressed the problem in Dr. Barry Patchett’s Materials Design 443 class and have published their findings in the Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance. Students in the class are asked to take something that already exists and improve its performance and design by using new materials.

Patchett said that the space suit for Mars is the first design created in the class that he felt could stand up to the peer review process required for publication. "It is the best project I’ve seen in over a decade," he said.


"I don’t know why we decided to design a space suit," Yarmuch said. "Nothing like it had ever been designed in the class before, so I guess that was the main attraction."

The three materials engineering students began by studying, layer by layer, the space suits NASA developed for trips to the moon. Suits made for Mars, however, will require much more thought than the ones produced for the moon, Yarmuch said. "Mars has nothing for atmosphere. There’s some carbon dioxide, but that’s about it for gases."

Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a magnetosphere to protect it from radiation and meteors and micrometeors, and astronauts on Mars will also have to deal with average temperatures of –60C. In creating their design, the students tried to balance these concerns with the need to create a suit that the astronauts could move about in as they explored.

"The gravitational force on Mars is about one-third of that on Earth, so if you built the suit with lead to protect the astronauts from the radiation, it would still end up weighing a few hundred kilograms, and the poor guys wouldn’t be able to move," Yarmuch said.

The suit includes ball bearings and bearing and compression rings, and one of the 12 layers of material the students incorporated into their design is Demron, a new polymeric created by a company called Radiation Shield Technologies (RST). As the students completed their theoretical design using computer-aided design software, they did not worry about costs, which "would have been very high" if they produced an actual suit, Yarmuch said.

"We asked RST for an estimate on the cost of Demron, but because it’s such a new product and we were only asking them for a speculative price, they didn’t even want to give us a number," Yarmuch said. "Ultimately, we designed [the suit] without concern for cost--we went cutting edge on everything."

Two of the reviewers on the editorial board for the Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance are from NASA, Patchett noted, so perhaps one day parts of the U of A students’ space suit design will be incorporated into a suit built by NASA.

"That would be very cool," Yarmuch added. "The development of a real suit to be used on a real mission to Mars is probably still a couple of decades away at least, but I think our research will help point future researchers in the right direction."


Dr. Barry Patchett can be reached at 780-492-2604 or barry.patchett@ualberta.ca

Ryan Smith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca/

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>