Mars is one seriously cold rock, so where better in the world to test a new spacesuit design then the permafrost of Antarctica? NASA researchers recently took the NDX-1 spacesuit prototype, designed at the University of North Dakota by Argentine aerospace engineer Pablo de Leon, for an Antarctic test drive where the suit was exposed to 47 mile per hour winds and frigid polar temperatures.
The NDX-1 has been under development for several years now at UND's Space Suit Laboratory, but this was its first test-drive in harsh, Mars-simulating conditions. The idea wasn't just to take the suit somewhere cold, but also somewhere isolated "so that if something went wrong we couldn't just go to the store," De Leon said to Reuters.
Not that you could patch the NDX-1 together at the local hardware store. The $100,000 suit (funded by NASA) contains more than 350 materials, including weight-reducing carbon fiber and Kevlar.
A team of NASA scientists, including De Leon himself, took the suit through the paces of simulated spacewalks during which they collected samples and operated tools like drills--the very kinds of activities the first humans on Mars very well might undertake. If, that is, we ever get there. With NASA's purse strings tightening, developing an interplanetary space vehicle may not be in cards for quite a while, leaving America's astronauts all dressed up in their NDX-1s with no place to go.
The question I have is how they tested this properly... as far as exposure, operational and functioning at the proper temperatures. Mars gets from as cold as -87c to as warm as 40c depending on orbit and rotation. The coldest ever recorded and confirmed temp on earth is -89c, average temps in Antarctica are around -25c. So I guess it's close, but the average temp on mars is a decent amount lower than the average Antarctic temps... and those 10-20c make a huge difference. The winds are about right to compare. It's still VERY cool to see some progress into exploration being made, even if I do feel that getting an operational base of some sort on the moon is a better starting point then hurling some people towards Mars on a mission who's odds would play them a one way mission. Then again, I guess the moon landing was that way at 1st too. Eh, either way, it would be nice to see the world come together and move the human race forwards as one rather than as seperates.
Question: If NASA is as 'poor' as they say, why would you go all the way to Antarctica when the same conditions are available in Northern Canada? Since it's made in UND it's just a short hop over the border, catch a Westjet flight to Yellowknife and test it in the exact same conditions with far less cost. It's not like they were actually testing it in -90c anyway....
Those are some ugly shoes underneath his cankles!
It because Antarctica is colder than the North. Also, Antarctica is used for scientific research only. Their research is scientific. :P
Canada seems too meh, test it on everist. Also why cant we have mechanical counterpressure ;_;