Big Pic: Testing Spacesuits For Mars

Three Mars spacesuit designs hop through obstacle courses.

Looking Good

Tester Luca Foresta wears the Aouda.X spacesuit, designed by the Austrian Space Forum.OewF/Claudia Stix

Last week, spacesuit designers tested whether their creations would be flexible enough for a mission to Mars. Teams in two continents suited up to hop over zigzag lines, set up tripods, take photos, and bag pretend samples.

Any future spacesuits for human explorers on Mars will have to do a lot. They'll need to provide wearers with oxygen, a comfortable temperature and pressure, and shielding from radiation. They may even need to protect people from toxins in Mars' dust. So the Austrian Space Forum, an organization that does public outreach for Austrian space science, worried that such suits could be unwieldy. To test the dexterity of different suits, the organization set up simultaneous obstacle courses in Austria, France, North Dakota and Utah on October 8.

The Austrian Space Form says it has submitted results to the journal Astrobiology. Meanwhile, the test itself was a bit of an event, held during the United Nations' World Space Week.

Tested suits included the Aouda.X suit by the Austrian Space Forum, the NDX-2 suit by the Human Spaceflight Laboratory at the University of North Dakota, and suits by the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. The Austrian Space Forum provided a central mission control. Check out the different suits below:

An Aouda.X Tester Bags a Sample

OewF/Claudia Stix

An NDX-2 Suit Tester Steps through an Obstacle Course

Pablo de León/Tiffany Swarmer/UND Aerospace Network

Tester Wearing a Mars Desert Research Station Suit

the Mars Society/ H. Mogosanu/ WSW2013 Mission to Mars Crew

Mars Desert Research Station Suit Testers in Front of an Obstacle Course

the Mars Society/ H. Mogosanu/ WSW2013 Mission to Mars Crew