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MIT Works On Mars Space Suit

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the new-uniforms dept.

Mars 71

An anonymous reader writes in with a story about MIT's work on space suits to be used by Mars astronauts. "When we send the first humans to Mars we will need to get the most scientific data in the smallest amount of time while not exhausting our astronauts in the process. Dava J. Newman has been working on a 'biosuit' that's designed to do just that....Dava’s suit would be a huge leap forward in terms of construction as well. They’ve enlisted the expertise of Dainese, an Italian manufacturer of motorcycle racing 'leathers'—leather and carbon-fiber suits designed to protect racers traveling at up to 200 mph. The suit would be a degree safer than current space suits. While a puncture or scrape in a traditional space suit would cause a dramatic decrease in pressure and would be traumatic, even deadly, the 'biosuit' could be patched with a high-tech ace bandage. The wearer would wrap it around the punctured area to stop the leak almost instantly. Pressure loss would be minimal and the astronaut would be able to continue working and finish his or her task. "

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Careful tiger, (1)

awrowe (1110817) | about 2 years ago | (#41213195)

I think he might be over-anticipating here.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 2 years ago | (#41213361)

Is this ever going to be used, and is this going to speed up people going to Mars?

I think that, if they NASA et al really wanted to go to Mars and actually do a mission, they'd have developed a proper space suit to match the mission pretty fast. They also managed to do everything for the Moon mission in the 60's, so ...

Re:Careful tiger, (2)

ravenspear (756059) | about 2 years ago | (#41214349)

NASA contracted the space suit for the Apollo program to the firms Hamilton Standard and International Latex Corporation.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41214973)

Is this ever going to be used, and is this going to speed up people going to Mars?

I think that, if they NASA et al really wanted to go to Mars and actually do a mission, they'd have developed a proper space suit to match the mission pretty fast. They also managed to do everything for the Moon mission in the 60's, so ...

On the list of things necessary to get to Mars and build a permanent outpost there (like the ISS or the Amundsen-Scott Base on the South Pole), I would put getting a proper space suit working is rather far down the list and one of the more insignificant issues to be resolved.... particularly because proven spacesuit designs have already been made in previous flights by at least three different nations and presumably different companies all trying to do the same thing.

Back when NASA was trying to figure out how to build a spacesuit in the first place [dailymail.co.uk] , the only thing they could remotely find was a suit of armor worn by King Henry VIII of England. It was a full set of battle armor that similarly had to protect the whole body from head to toe, and it didn't expose any part of the body even when joints were flexed. A common technique for medieval warfare was to try and wedge a sword or an arrow into a joint, so the better your protected those joints the better your chances of survival in combat or even at a tournament.

It certainly is useful to look around for alternatives and Mars is going to be an interesting environment to at least plan for. I'm impressed that this kind of thinking is going on, but there are a whole bunch of other issues that need to be addressed for successful human exploration of Mars.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41215197)

On the list of things necessary to get to Mars and build a permanent outpost there (like the ISS or the Amundsen-Scott Base on the South Pole), I would put getting a proper space suit working is rather far down the list and one of the more insignificant issues to be resolved.... particularly because proven spacesuit designs have already been made in previous flights by at least three different nations and presumably different companies all trying to do the same thing.

Well sure, but we're not talking about a program that's at the top of NASA's priority list here, either. It's an MIT program that's been going on for years (I saw this lady on tv a good, long time ago).

Re:Careful tiger, (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#41215219)

spacesuit designs have already been made in previous flights by at least three different nations

Yes, and all of them suck to one extent or another. The suit is one of the main reasons why EVAs are very limited in duration, they spend a lot of their energy fighting against the suit to move. Colonists, as opposed to explorers, need something that can be worn for most of a day without exhausting the wearer. They'll probably never get as easy as the zip-up space suit with the bubble helmet of Buck Rogers, but there's a lot of room for improvement.

Re:Careful tiger, (0)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41215465)

colonists need to live in a giant bubble that alleviates the need for them to actually wear any kind of special suit all day...

Re:Careful tiger, (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215761)

Not feasible. Sure, the goal should be to build a giant bubble or dome for them to live in, but 1) there's going to be some time until they get that thing built and ready to inhabit, and you'll need construction workers walking around outside to get it built, and 2) the Mars base isn't going to be a place for people to just stay inside all day long and telecommute, they're going to need to go out in the field at some point to do work, whether it's checking out sites for geology studies or figuring out where they're going to build a new wing for the Mars base and doing the construction work for that.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41218417)

Whether you have suits or a giant bubble you are talking about tanked gas a bubble with CO2 scrubbing is more efficient. I'd expect any sort of colonization effort to have plans for a base camp from the start. It may be temporary but I'd expect at least a large inflatable habitat.

Point taken about field work. Although I wouldn't be expecting an early Mars colony to be doing much more than establishing a mars colony for quite some time. We wouldn't want them to stop engaging in farming and construction just to conduct experiments like they do on the space station. Their colonization efforts are experiment enough. Robots are better at taking measurements than people. People are better at designing, building, controlling, repairing and maintaining robots than robots. The people can probably normally sit in their bubble, occasionally taking remote control of robots that are outside.

Re:Careful tiger, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41215109)

" They also managed to do everything for the Moon mission in the 60's, so ..."

The NAZIs who did all that for them are dead by now.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215769)

Yes, but there's more Nazis living on the far side of the Moon who still know how to do everything.

Re:Careful tiger, (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 2 years ago | (#41216491)

Yes, but there's more Nazis living on the far side of the Moon who still know how to do everything.

The GSNR, sure; but the supply is only sufficient for thirty project days at full space-race level funding, so we have to make sure we're totally committed lest we squander them.

Do they have better gloves? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213241)

In normal spacesuits, it is painful to use your hands and eventually you will lose your fingernails due to chafing inside of the gloves. From a user's comfort perspective, this is probably the biggest issue. Spacewalkers would love this tech if it has decent flexible gloves that are resistant to puncturing (which is among the reasons traditional gloves are built so rigidly).

Re:Do they have better gloves? (1)

pahles (701275) | about 2 years ago | (#41213323)

I have never heard of an astronaut who lost his/her fingernails. Where did you get this info?

Re:Do they have better gloves? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213371)

You need to do a quick web search for it since it is common knowledge. I'd give you the link, but that would be aiding your bad behavior. Use the query "astronaut glove fingernail". Google gives me 400,000 results on this search.

Re:Do they have better gloves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213865)

I don't think you can call it common knowledge as an excuse for such an attitude. It seems like most of the links on the first several pages of that search are all reference to one news story that spread around in 2010, that some astronauts lose fingernails and it was linked to those with wider hands.

Re:Do they have better gloves? (2)

shaitand (626655) | about 2 years ago | (#41215487)

This is Slashdot not an academic paper, the burden is on the reader to find references not the writer to provide them.

Re:Do they have better gloves? (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | about 2 years ago | (#41227577)

Is it? This is a rule. Common knowledge? You can spout out total BS with no back up, then act like an ass when someone questions it, because it is the readers job to do due diligence? Well, that makes total sense and really seams like a good way to go about things. BTW, I am god and everything I write here is 100% correct. Just agree with me, you don't even have to bother looking it up. I would give you accurate references to prove this, but I would rather you waste your time doing the research.

Re:Do they have better gloves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41220679)

Ironically the same researcher who figured out the details of the fingernails and gloves problem is the one working on the Mars surface suit.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/09/100913-science-space-astronauts-gloves-fingernails-injury/

Re:Do they have better gloves? (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 2 years ago | (#41216571)

I have never heard of an astronaut who lost his/her fingernails. Where did you get this info?

I saw this on TV. One case involved a young psychiatric patient named Samara; she spent seven days trying to claw her way out of the suit at the bottom of a gravity well.

That's lame (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213259)

Seriously, that amount of research and money, all the way out on BFE Mars, and a suit tear means using a glorified ace bandage? That suit should be virtually impenetrable and/or self-healing.

Major issue with space suits ... (4, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41213269)

... is the need to maintain sufficient internal pressure to sustain human life without being too stiff to work in for long periods. Suits made more skin tight [wikipedia.org] are the current area of research. That seems to be what MIT is working on.

I'd like to see some work along the lines of a smart G suit [wikipedia.org] type garment that can sense the occupant's movements and compensate by reshaping itself dynamically. Probably something based on artificial muscle fibers rather than compressed air.

Re:Major issue with space suits ... (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 2 years ago | (#41213681)

The problem with all the high tech approaches is power. We simply don't have a portable power source that could supply energy for long enough to make any of the really cool ideas work.

Mars does have air pressure (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 2 years ago | (#41213277)

In his Mars trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , Kim Stanley Robinson spent quite some time musing on suits for exploring the surface of Mars. I found it interesting that, although Mars has a very thin atmosphere compared to Earth, the presence of any atmosphere at all makes it much easier to design a flexible, comfortable suit than for the landings on the moon or spacewalks.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (3, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41213337)

On the other hand, Mars suits have to withstand the sandstorms there.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (3, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41214181)

That may or may be worse than the moon where the dust particles are unpolished (and so very abrasive) and stick to everything due to static charges that don't dissipate in vacuum.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41214681)

I don't think going outside when there's 100mph winds is a good idea, rugged space suit or not.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215787)

100mph winds aren't a big deal when the atmospheric pressure is ~1/100 of that on Earth (except, of course, for the dust issue). It's not like it's going to blow you over or anything.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (2)

Tx (96709) | about 2 years ago | (#41213383)

ISTR the "walkers" used in Red Mars were along the lines of the suits described in the article, i.e. a form-fitting mechanical resistance suit, rather than a pressure suit. There was also some sort of open-cycle breathing system that was much less bulky that what we have today, but I can't remember the details.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41214193)

Unless you have some kind of seal at the neck area, an "open cycle" breathing system is probably too inefficient. You have too great a volume of air that you are exhaling directly into. That in turn would probably cause serious moisture problems, as well as having to scrub CO2 from the air in the suit (as opposed to just supplying more fresh air ala Scuba).

Re:Mars does have air pressure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213617)

If you broke a light bulb on Mars, it would explode. I can't imagine a 600 millibarr (0.6% of that of Earth) atmosphere means much. It may be enough to blow around some dust and allow for dust storms, but it is still essentially a vacuum. If your spacesuit is breached, any exposed liquid would start boiling.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41214377)

Your skin is pretty resilient to pressure, so you can survive (briefly) in a vacuum if necessary. The scene in Titan A.E. where the protagonist busts out the cockpit window and uses a fire extinguisher for propulsion to flying through space without a spacesuit is at least somewhat realistic and could in theory actually happen... assuming you could get into an air lock under a minute or so and get it to quick repressurize so you could catch a breath of air. You would be in pain, but still be alive.

Basically, on the surface of Mars, you could in theory run between two different buildings a few dozen meters apart without a space suit using the same principle. In an emergency, there at least would be a high probability of survival even if it isn't something recommended. It would be sort of like swimming a few dozen meters underwater and holding your breath the whole time.

BTW, the surface pressure on Mars is 6 millibar, not 600. In Hellas Basin (the lowest point on Mars) that goes up to 12 millibars of pressure. By comparison, the air pressure at the top of Mount Everest is about 300 millibar, and the typical air pressure at sea level on the Earth is about 1000 millibar. The 600 figure is likely in Pascals (another pressure unit), because 100 kiloPascals is the same as 1 bar or 1000 millibar. Yeah, it is pretty close to a vacuum no matter what way you cut it.

The Kim Stanley Robinson books covering Mars has a couple of chapters devoted to the idea that the residents of Mars were able to escape from a bunch of terrorists by putting on what amounted to be a bunch of arctic clothing (Heavy Parkas, a few layers of socks, and other cold weather gear) along with an oxygen mask. An important distinction is that KSR also had at that point in the books a significant terraforming project on Mars which had put approximately 200-300 millibars of pressure into the Martian atmosphere. It wasn't perfect, but it was survivable. It was enough air pressure that lichens and a few genetically engineered plants could survive on the surface of Mars exposed directly to the global environment. In that chapter the residents of a major city migrated a couple hundred miles across the surface by foot before they got to their refuge area. It was a fun part of the story to read though.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41215423)

Your skin is pretty resilient to pressure, so you can survive (briefly) in a vacuum if necessary. The scene in Titan A.E. where the protagonist busts out the cockpit window and uses a fire extinguisher for propulsion to flying through space without a spacesuit is at least somewhat realistic and could in theory actually happen... assuming you could get into an air lock under a minute or so and get it to quick repressurize so you could catch a breath of air. You would be in pain, but still be alive.

You can survive for 1, maybe 2 minutes without lasting damage. But you lose consciousness in 10-15 seconds, because your lungs are void of oxygen. Even though "used" blood returning to your lungs still has ~75% oxygenated, that oxygen leaves your blood (and gets sucked out your windpipe). Not at all like exhaling and holding your empty breath, because there the residual air in your lungs always has at least enough oxygen to be equilibrium with your blood, so it recirculates at low oxygen content instead of being stripped to nothing.

Basically, on the surface of Mars, you could in theory run between two different buildings a few dozen meters apart without a space suit using the same principle. In an emergency, there at least would be a high probability of survival even if it isn't something recommended. It would be sort of like swimming a few dozen meters underwater and holding your breath the whole time.

No, because there is no holding your breath against 3-4 psi -- the air will be sucked from your lungs. You were evolved (and/or designed by FSM) to deal with only neutral or positive external pressure, because there's no situation on Earth (before the industrial revolution) you can experience negative external pressure. (Since then, we have coming up from a dive with pressurized air, losing pressurization in an aircraft at altitude, or the one that made me say industrial revolution -- pneumatic caisson accidents. But these all, except aircraft at extreme height, leave you with a remnant of oxygen-containing air, preventing the prompt hypoxia explained above.)

Re:Mars does have air pressure (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215803)

They had a scene like this in 2001: A Space Odyssey too; Bowman had to go from his small ship to an airlock on the Discovery without a suit. The whole process only took a few seconds though. I think the biggest problem is that the small blood vessels on your eyeballs will burst, but they'll heal.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215861)

An important distinction is that KSR also had at that point in the books a significant terraforming project on Mars which had put approximately 200-300 millibars of pressure into the Martian atmosphere. It wasn't perfect, but it was survivable.

How did he propose to do this? I thought getting Mars to hold a significant atmosphere wasn't really likely because 1) it doesn't have that much gravity (1/3g), and 2) it doesn't have a magnetic field to protect against solar winds. And without a liquid iron core, it can't be made to have a magnetic field.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#41216531)

An important distinction is that KSR also had at that point in the books a significant terraforming project on Mars which had put approximately 200-300 millibars of pressure into the Martian atmosphere. It wasn't perfect, but it was survivable.

How did he propose to do this? I thought getting Mars to hold a significant atmosphere wasn't really likely because 1) it doesn't have that much gravity (1/3g), and 2) it doesn't have a magnetic field to protect against solar winds. And without a liquid iron core, it can't be made to have a magnetic field.

There was a whole suite of ideas for increasing the atmosphere of Mars, and that is sort of the point of the first two books in terms of talking about those techniques. Sure, the atmosphere won't stick around for billions of years, but it will remain on Mars for millions of years.... long enough that on the scale of human civilizations is more than long enough and long enough that life will even evolve and adapt to life on Mars in its own unique way. The people who are around in 2-3 million years can worry about the issue of how to replenish the atmosphere.

Part of what was done is to take locked up carbon in Mars and make some "smog generators" of some kind (deliberately doing to Mars what some are saying we are doing here on the Earth by burning coal). Some other volatiles (mainly water) are suggested to be extracted from the asteroid belt by smashing them into snowballs and raining them down onto Mars in small hand-sized chunks. One of the major plots of the story was also to build a planetary sized Frenzel lens to magnify the Sun to give Earth-level insolation.

A really interesting "event" in the book is also about how Phobos was crashed deliberately into the surface by some "terrorists" (or patriots... depending on your POV of the events in the book).

It really is a good read, and the way everything gets put together in the book seriously discusses terraforming on both an engineering perspective as well as a political one with a significant faction of the Martian people wanting Mars to stay "Red" and another one called "Greens" pushing for terraforming. Pretty good arguments are put forward for both factions too.

In terms of trying to stay somewhat on topic, what is interesting in the book is the evolution of the "spacesuit" on Mars as the atmosphere changes, where eventually KSR does describe people walking around on the surface of Mars without any special aid at all. In fact a marathon is the subject of one of the chapters.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41216961)

Interesting. That sure sounds like a lot of trouble for terraforming however, esp. that planetary-size Fresnel lens (since Mars isn't that close to the Sun); wouldn't it be easier to terraform Venus if you're going to go to all that effort? Venus is closer to the sun (no Fresnel lens needed, though you may need a way to reduce the amount of sunlight hitting the surface), and it has nearly earth-level gravity, instead of a puny 1/3g. You just have to figure out how to deal with the atmosphere, but there's been ideas thrown around for that, including seeding the atmosphere with microbes and letting them deal with it.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (1)

Lucractius (649116) | about 2 years ago | (#41218741)

In the series there was a mention of the other planets later on. The subject of Venus is brought up and the solution is similar. While the "soletta" built to help terraform mars is an arrangement of mirrors to concentrate extra solar power for greater surface insolation, the Venusian one was built to do the exact opposite.
They designed it to reflect away as much of the incoming solar power as they could feasibly manage, and were patiently waiting for the entire atmosphere to freeze out as the planet cooled down due to lack of incoming solar heat, and then planned to "build" a suitable atmosphere from scratch after freezing out the old one that was full of toxic and acidic sulfides etc.

Re:Mars does have air pressure (2)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 2 years ago | (#41216601)

You are right, the effects of a vacuum are vastly overblown in movies and books. The first thing i looked up when i saw the comment about punctures in the summary was this http://www.geoffreylandis.com/vacuum.html [geoffreylandis.com] which includes a bit describing when one of our astronauts had a 1/16th inch hole punched through his suits glove. The same page goes into some details on the effects of vacuum on people.
part of people's problem with vacuum, is they seem to mentally correlate it with pressure like on a submarine. In a submarine, at depth, you have thousands of pounds of pressure pressing inward on the hull, and a puncture is catastrophic, a needle of water that can cut like a razor. people mentaly invert this situation when thinking of vacuum. They assume the same is true, only in reverse.
The truth is, the difference in pressure between the inside of a space craft, and the outside vacuum is more or less 1 atmosphere. That is a *tiny* amount of force. which is why they could build the lunar lander walls 'the thickness of a couple sheets of tin foil'.
the reason our current suits are so bulky is not mainly for puncture prevention (although there is some of that) its largely for insulation/radiation barrier. and to cover the large amount of weird gear that the astronauts wear to stay at a safe temperature. a suit of underwear with tubing knitted in that carries liquid that is either warmed or cooled, depending on what the need is, among other things.

MIT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213293)

is the only university out there thats useful.

200 mph (0)

mister.woody (2712229) | about 2 years ago | (#41213357)

traveling at up to 200 mph
At that speed, it would only get 20 years to go to mars

Breaking news (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41213533)

spaceindustrynews.com has worse editors than Slashdot!

The suit would be a degree safer

Is that more or less than a "smidge"?

While a puncture of scrape

I'll assume that's meant to be "or scrape." What constitutes a scrape in a spacesuit, anyway?

Re:Breaking news (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41214191)

Same as for skin I would assume.

Duct Tape To The Rescue (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#41214233)

I suppose sooner or later, someone had to suggest the "duct tape" approach to space suit repair. And why not? A small puncture or tear would probably not compromise insulation very much, so just sealing the hole temporarily would seem to be a good solution.

Well, I think they're talking about hard-shell suits here, so I am assuming a "scrape" is probably a breach more like a scratch or tear than a hole.

Close, but no cigar. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213565)

While an easily patchable suit seems like a great idea, what we really need is a suit that patches itself. Astronauts may not be able to see or reach the site of a suit puncture, in which case their screwed. A suit that has some sort of self-sealing properties or maybe with a thin layer of that green goop used to seal bicycle tires from punctures would be a better idea IMO.

Re:Close, but no cigar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41215001)

Yes, because not being able to patch a suit at all is still much better than only being able to patch it if you can reach it.

Old news, but at least they didn't include photos. (1)

Tofof (199751) | about 2 years ago | (#41213597)

This is old news, but there are better images out there. The designer tends to model it herself - if you've got it, flaunt it, I suppose.

Her own design page, including some photos of the construction process: http://mvl.mit.edu/EVA/biosuit/ [mit.edu]

What looks to be a hapless grad student modeling it (but that's just a guess on my part): http://alumweb.mit.edu/groups/amita.old/images/people/Newman.jpg [mit.edu]

Cnet slideshow: http://news.cnet.com/2300-11397_3-6197224.html [cnet.com]

Re:Old news, but at least they didn't include phot (1)

downhole (831621) | about 2 years ago | (#41216569)

What's strange is how old and vauge it all is. There's pics of the same stuff from 2000. Have they made any progress since then? They've got some cool pictures, but are they willing to set foot in a Mars-simulated atmosphere yet? If not, what do they need to do to get there, and how much progress have they made on those problems in the last decade?

speaking of mars.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41213677)

http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20000123

if anyone here has yet to read 'ghost in the wires', get on it. seriously.
also, 'the cuckoo's egg' is very worth reading.

if you want to study something far more interesting and relevant than either, check out 'the century of the self' and 'the trap' by adam curits. two very well done documentaries.

if you want to study something far more important than anything else ive said, find a 1888 'great controversy'

been there, done that (1)

Cederic (9623) | about 2 years ago | (#41213993)

I have no fewer than six different space suit designs appropriate for Mars and wearable by humans. I also have a couple for Reticulans but I can't make them, just trade for them.

UFO Afterlight: underrated :)

More Space Nutter delusion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41214077)

Yes, why don't we also plan for the restaurants on Mars, and condos, and street signs and speed limits.... Idiots.

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41214215)

Who cares about science? If it doesn't happen now, now, now, it's worthless! A trip to the moon? Please! Impossible!

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41214281)

But is it useful to send people? Have you ever sat down to think about what is required to keep you alive every day? And how like none of that, except for gravity, is present on the Moon or Mars? How is it science to dream about sending people?

Please explain that.

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (2)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#41215289)

There's only one way to learn how to build a colony in space; do it. Science is a great reason to do so, but merely the possibility of expanding off a single planet and into the universe should be reason enough.

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41216859)

Uh, we know plenty enough engineering, physics and biology to know it will never, ever work, ever. We're already in the universe, BTW.

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 2 years ago | (#41215833)

Sounds like a typical American.

Re:More Space Nutter delusion (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41219487)

you again! excellent!

"hey guize, please get back to being boring and having no hope - you're all spoiling my downer here."

"Magic happens" (2)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 2 years ago | (#41214645)

I love the diagram on her site where they break down the layers [mit.edu] :
"Temperature and moisture control".
Remember the Far Side cartoon where two scientists are staring at a chalkboard and "magic happens" is written in the middle? Yeeeeaaaaaaaah.

Newman needs to spend less time showing herself off wearing mockups and playing celebrity space cadet - and more time actually working on the practical problems. A significant amount of sweat is generated by the body even under light exertion. Moderate exertion is even worse. For example, when cycling in comfortable summer temperatures, it's easy to go through a litre of water or more every hour.

There's also the problem of insulation from temperatures ranging from as high as 31 degrees below freezing, to -161 degrees F. That's roughly the temperature where carbon dioxide precipitates into a solid, folks.

Re:"Magic happens" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41216099)

There's also the problem of insulation from temperatures ranging from as high as 31 degrees below freezing, to -161 degrees F. That's roughly the temperature where carbon dioxide precipitates into a solid, folks.

Do you know what <10 mbar pressure means? It means the only insulation you need is in the soles of your boots and your gloves. The rest of you would quickly overheat if the sweat was all contained, because there's basically zero convective heat transfer. (Of course, as you point out, the sweat must be contained, both because evaporative cooling will freeze you right quick, and because water is precious.)

Re:"Magic happens" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41219417)

Nice contribution. Projects live or die based on public support. This was neither sleazy nor shameless, and I for one am glad to see at least ONE of these endeavors given some attention.

Also, being a triathlete, I'm sure Dr. Newman knows about how much the human body can perspire.

Re:"Magic happens" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41223697)

He's right, though. She's just another MIT attention-seeker, using her high profile school name to tout research that is more than covered elsewhere as if it were some unique breakthrough.

Re:"Magic happens" (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41219499)

stillsuits!

Interesting advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41214779)

Or more precisely: That after having a near fatal suit accident the main concern is that the astronaut finish the task at hand and not getting back to the safety of the mission base.

Say what now? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41214945)

Is this suit full of fail already?

I was under the impression you didn't really need a pressure suit on Mars. A good winter coat and an oxygen mask, sure.

Now keeping Earth bacterial fauna off Mars is another issue. But there's no deadly fear of a suit puncture.

Re:Say what now? (1)

damiangerous (218679) | about 2 years ago | (#41215441)

I was under the impression you didn't really need a pressure suit on Mars. A good winter coat and an oxygen mask, sure.

Your impression is seriously misinformed. The atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 6 mbar. Humans cannot survive below about 62 mbar without a pressure suit.

Re:Say what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41217709)

Read this very informative thread [cosmoquest.org] on the topic.

Short version? That idea is so wrong it'd be funny, if it weren't held by so many "space enthusiasts" with no excuse.

Maudeeb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41215047)

The suits in the movie Dune come to mind. Recycling h2o anyways

Jerry Pournelle described these in the 1970s (1)

John Bresnahan (638668) | about 2 years ago | (#41215147)

Jerry Pournelle was writing SF stories using suits just like this back in the 1970s. HERE [projectrho.com] is a page describing this suit, and including a quote from Pournelle's story "Exiles To Glory".

Re:Jerry Pournelle described these in the 1970s (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41219509)

ixnae on the prior art-ae! we don't want Apple to sue MIT into nonexistence!

Since 1968 (1)

Skylax (1129403) | about 2 years ago | (#41215755)

Her website shows a list of papers on this subject:
www.elasticspacesuit.com/documentation/ [elasticspacesuit.com]

First one is from 1968. I know it is a bit pessimistic but this seems like the skin tight space suit is one of those perpetual tech dreams (alongside flying cars, fusion power plants, space elevators, hypersonic aircraft etc.) where once in a while someone comes up and says that we have the technology now or is just around the corner (only wait for 5 more years...).
From looking at the history of technological innovation one realizes that if some new technology takes longer than at most 5 years to be turned into a promising(!) prototype chances are it will never ever really work (but will still be funded because the potential benefits are so huge).

Ah you know what I just looked up the history of the jet engine (Timeline of jet power [wikipedia.org] ) and realized it took almost 40 years from the first prototype to the first jet powered aircraft, so scratch the above comment.

     

Rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41219983)

Why would they waste their time and money on something that will never be used? When people finally go to Mars in the second half of this century (maybe), what they'll use will bare no resemblance to what these people are building. It will use NONE of what these people are learning. Nothing that is being done for the non-existent Mars mission will actually go on the mission when somebody finally goes.

Perhaps I'm being a miserable old so and so, but I'm fed up with all these 'studies', nice websites with pretty pictures, and big talk from people who don't know what they're talking about. Most of it is well meaning, but people are getting sucked in by this and NOTHING will come of it - again. This has been going on for decades. It is a joke.

If we really wanted to go to Mars, we would have been there already. The useful people who want to do this are stuck with not enough money, and the useless, shortsighted people who have the money, would rather spend it on killing lots of people so that they can fill their already bulging wallets with even more money they don't need.

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