Nasa's designs on Martian fashion

By Maria McEvoy

Parts of the Z-2 spacesuit will go on man's first mission to Mars. Picture / Nasa
Parts of the Z-2 spacesuit will go on man's first mission to Mars. Picture / Nasa

Nasa has released pictures of a prototype spacesuit, parts of which American astronauts could one day wear on the first manned mission to Mars.

The public voted on three different designs for the Z-2 and the "Technology" design won by a landslide with 63 per cent of the vote.

The design uses luminescent wire to form a light on the front of the suit that can be personalised to help astronauts identify other individuals on their team.

The Z-2 is a prototype so will not be making any future trip to Mars itself as it does not have the ability to fend off the extreme temperatures and radiation of a flight into space.

But Nasa said elements of the suit could one day be used by the first astronauts to visit Mars.

The Z-2 is a development on the original Z-1 design that Nasa released in 2012, which was the first major overhaul of space suits in 30 years.

The new suit was made using 3D printed panels and, with the use of laser scanners, each suit can be custom made to fit perfectly each member of the team.

Nasa said the design reflects the qualities that protect some of 'Earth's toughest creatures', and specifically includes segmented pleats at the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee.

"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," Nasa said.

"Besides the typical fit checks and mobility evaluations, Nasa currently is planning a very comprehensive test campaign for the Z-2 suit."

These will include tests in a vacuum chamber to mimic the lack of atmosphere in space, a pool test that trains astronauts to walk and tests on a ground that imitates the rocky terrain of Mars.

The Z-2 should be ready for testing in November this year.

ILC Dover, Nasa's primary suit vendor, and Philadelphia University collaborated to create the three designs.

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