The MarsSuit Project is underway at UC Berkeley, led by professor Lawrence Kuznetz (right).
Credit: Lawrence Kuznetz
The first explorers on Mars will need a new kind of spacesuit, and a university-based team has taken a novel approach to design the equipment.
Researchers have set up a “collaboratory” at the University of California, Berkeley, to come up with a spacesuit that will allow expeditionary crews to work effectively on Mars.
“The kind of suit that we’re talking about is a blue-collar suit. You’ve got to be able to be out and about on Mars 7 to 8 hours a day, seven days a week,” said project leader Lawrence Kuznetz, a UC Berkeley professor and former NASA engineer with a long history of investigating Mars spacesuit concepts.
About 50 Berkeley students are now taking part in this MarsSuit Project, via a design class that began in mid-January. That core group, Kuznetz said, is one slice of a larger, interactive talent pool that includes the University of Helsinki, Texas A&M University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and students at the Technical University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and at other institutions, along with several NASA centers, nonprofits and private organizations, such as Paragon Space Development Corporation in Tucson, Arizona.
Teams have been established to delve into everything from hardware, soft goods and software to boots, gloves, thermal control and waste management.
“The long-range vision is to have this course semester after semester,” Kuznetz said, “with each semester building upon the work of the prior semester … all intent on maturing the MarsSuit design.”