|Ana Verayo |||Sep 19, 2014 10:16 AM EDT|
The bulky, conventional space suits worn by astronauts are ready to be phased out as MIT develops their version with the BioSuit.
The BioSuit is made out of springlike coils that activate as soon as it comes in contact with body heat and wraps the body like second skin.This technology will further allow astronauts to move easier while in space.
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According to Dava Newman, a professor of astronautics and aeronautics at MIT, conventional spacesuits provide astronauts a necessary one-third atmospheric pressure that helps astonauts survive in the vacuum of space.
However, with the BioSuit, it allows for the same pressurization by applying that same amount of pressure directly in contact with the skin. With this unique blend of passive elastics and active materials, this spacesuit's advanatge is geared towards more movement as it is also lightweight, ideal for space exploration.
NASA has long been planning to integrate these form-fitting space suits. But now MIT scientists have applied the necessary adjustments so that astronauts can safely and efficiently wear and remove this tight suit.
MIT researchers have developed a special material called "shape-memory" alloys that enable the suit to shrink and become second skin with body heat but it can also be stretched out when force is applied once it is cooled. After a battery of tests, researchers have finally decided on a nickel-titanium shape-memory alloy for the BioSuit.
Another hurdle MIT scientists have to face is how to keep the BioSuit tight. Researchers can opt to make the spaceship's temperature indoors toasty. But astronauts are prone to overheat, so now, they are developing locking mechanisms for the shrinking coils to keep the BioSuit tight and snug.
According to Bradley Holschuh, who is working in Newman's lab and is the creator of the shrinking coil technology, the BioSuit can even develop a sort of tourniquet system when the wearer is bleeding or injured.
Newman says that while the process of developing these space suits can be exciting, in hindsight, spacesuits are not just worn to increase or enhance human performance while exploring space but the astronauts' safety and survivability are also of utmost importance.
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