The Right Stuff [to Wear on Mars] Design News

NASA’s plans to send astronauts back to the Moon and, ultimately, to Mars raises an important sartorial question: What ever will they wear? The zero-gravity spacesuits that astronauts currently don when leaving the shuttle to manhandle satellites and other large objects won’t do when it comes to walking around the surface of a planet for hours at a time. “The biggest issue is mobility. On a planet surface, they’ll have to walk, move and bend,” says Lara Kearney, program manager for advanced extravehicular activity (EVA) suits at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Planetary suits will also have to be lighter. The shuttle suits weigh in at just more than 100 lbs with their life-support backpacks. Even when contending with Mars’ lower gravity, that kind of weight would impose a big burden.