Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Mars spacesuit returns from Utah

UND Space Studies researchers are back from two weeks in Utah, where they tested UND's Mars spacesuit in the Mars-like conditions surrounding NASA's Mars Desert Research Station.

UND Space Studies researchers are back from two weeks in Utah, where they tested UND's Mars spacesuit in the Mars-like conditions surrounding NASA's Mars Desert Research Station.

Most of the Utah tests focused on testing the spacesuit's overall mobility and the flexibility of some new joints and other modifications made after last year's tests in western North Dakota, said Pablo de Leon, the main UND researcher working on the project.

They also tested the spacesuit in conjunction with tools designed at the University of North Carolina for gathering rocks and other samples from the planet's surface.

"Even though the geography is similar to the (North Dakota) badlands, this place was a lot more isolated," de Leon said. "This is really the middle of nowhere, so you have to plan your experiments in ways that if something goes wrong, you can find a solution there."

After the Utah tests, he said, researchers would like to create a backpack-style life support system to replace the current system and design new gloves to increase dexterity.

ADVERTISEMENT

The biggest challenge testing in Utah wasn't the spacesuit, but the heat, he said, which made testing impractical after the late morning. To make the most of their time, testing days typically began at 4 a.m., de Leon said. By the time the crew reached the testing site and the spacesuit was put on, he said, the sun was just starting to rise.

"It was too hot for everyone, but especially for the guy inside the suit," he said.

De Leon said the suit is designed for Mars, where high temperatures won't be an issue. Mars has an average surface temperature of 81 degrees below zero, according to the Web site http://marsnews.com ).

The "guy inside the spacesuit" was usually Fabio Sau, a recent graduate from UND's space studies Master's degree program, who accompanied de Leon to Utah. Standing inside the spacesuit is a unique experience, de Leon said.

"It's not a sensation that's for everybody, and it's not a good idea if you're claustrophobic," he said. "Once you close the helmet and pressurize the suit, it's like being disconnected from the outside world. You receive your own air. The only outside contact is on a radio."

UND was invited to test their spacesuit at the Mars research station by NASA's Ames Research Center, a research lab supporting NASA missions and technology. UND developed the Mars spacesuit with four other North Dakota schools through the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium.

Marks reports on higher education. Reach him at (701) 780-1105, (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or jmarks@gfherald.com .

What To Read Next
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.
Crisis pregnancy centers received almost $3 million in taxpayer funds in 2022. Soon, sharing only medically accurate information could be a prerequisite for funding.
The Grand Forks Blue Zones Project, which hopes to make Grand Forks not just a healthier city but a closer community, is hosting an event on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Empire Arts Center from 3-5 p.m.