Monday, November 1, 2010

Prototype Superhero-ish Spacesuits...

It looks like all the sci-fi movies got it right when they portrayed future space travelers wearing their form-fitting uniforms....
As far back as the Gemini missions, it has been known that astronauts lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass for each month they spend in space. Astronauts on long missions such as a future Mars mission which could take years, astronauts could 'lose enough bone mass that they suffer fractures while carrying out tasks on the Martian surface. The great minds over at MIT's Man-Vehicle Laboratory, have come up with a solution that may resolve this problem with a space suit that the crew of the Enterprise and Superman would admire...
With stirrups that loop around the feet, the elastic gravity skinsuit is purposely cut too short for the astronaut so that it stretches when put on—pulling the wearer’s shoulders towards the feet. In normal gravity conditions on Earth, a human’s legs bear more weight than the torso. Because the suit’s legs stretch more than the torso section, the wearer’s legs are subjected to a greater force—replicating gravity effects on Earth. The prototype suit testing took place on parabolic flights that created brief periods of weightlessness. Results showed that the suit successfully imitated the pull of gravity on the torso and thighs, but it did not exert enough force on the lower legs. Researchers are now refining the suit’s design to address this; they also plan to test the suit to see how it performs when worn overnight. Volunteers who wore the suit on the test flights reported that the suit was comfortable and did not significantly restrict movement, which means crewmembers can work and exercise while wearing the suit.
 via popsci

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