NASA has released details of the new type of spacesuits that its astronauts will wear during their exploration missions on the Moon and Mars.
The latest spacesuit created by the agency is called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU). Although they look a bit similar to the spacesuits currently worn by today's astronauts, NASA noted that it has better features. The agency said the xEMU will be the next-generation spacesuits that will be used in its upcoming Artemis program.
According to NASA, the new spacesuits are custom fit based on the body type of astronauts as well as their range of motion. The space agency was able to accomplish this by carrying out 3D scans of its astronauts as they carried out basic movement.
From these scans, NASA created 3D animated models of the astronauts wearing the suits. This allowed the agency to ensure that the xEMU spacesuit perfectly fit the astronauts.
In addition to customizing the fit of the suits, NASA also modified certain parts of the xEMU to ensure that it won't hinder the astronauts' mobility during their missions.
"The new lower torso includes advanced materials and joint bearings that allow bending and rotating at the hips, increased bending at the knees, and hiking-style boots with flexible soles," NASA said.
"On the upper torso, In addition to the updated shoulder placement, other shoulder enhancements allow astronauts to move their arms more freely and easily lift objects over their heads or reach across their body in the pressurized suit," the agency added.
Aside from improving mobility, NASA also made sure that the xEMU suits will protect astronauts from the harsh conditions in space. One of the lessons they learned from previous missions was how fine lunar dust can be.
For the xEMU, NASA included features that are specifically designed to repel dust and soil to prevent them from entering the suit and compromising its life support system. In addition, the agency also made sure that the suit will be able to protect astronauts from the extreme temperatures in space.
"Now we know that the greater danger is that the soil is composed of tiny glass-like shards, so the new suit has a suite of dust-tolerant features to prevent inhalation or contamination of the suit's life support system or other spacecraft," NASA stated. "The suit also is built to withstand temperature extremes of minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and up to 250 degrees in the Sun."
The new spacesuit will most likely make its debut when NASA launches its return mission to the Moon, which is expected to take place sometime in 2024.