Friday, Feb. 24, 2012
Extravehicular Activities for the Exploration of Mars
By: Pablo de León, Department of Space Studies at the University of North Dakota
Extravehicular activity is one of the most critical areas for planetary exploration. On Mars, due to gravity conditions, dust contamination and a specific thermal scenario, a special kind of suit is required to protect the astronauts. Since 2005 the Department of Space Studies at UND has been researching in the area of planetary space suit systems and developed the NDX-1a Mars suit demonstrator, which was tested on Earth under analog conditions. As a result of these studies new developments are taking place and a series of design improvements have been done to prepare a suit that can cope with the Mars conditions. Since a space suit is just part of the extravehicular system, an integrated design of the mission contemplating all different aspects of the tasks to accomplish, is required.