NASA has just unveiled its latest prototype for a new space suit, and virtually everybody agrees that its design looks strikingly familiar.More precisely, the astronomers who are to wear such a suit sooner or later are going to look very much like Buzz Lightyear, one of the fictional characters in the Toy Story franchise.
This is because the Z-1 space suit displays both a bright green trim, and a hemispherical dome that is intended to cover and protect the astronomer's head.
However, researchers working with NASA are sticking to their story that the space suit's design is actually meant to help space explorers move about with increased easiness.
Thus, its joints are significantly more flexible than those of the space suits used up until now, a feature that will allow astronauts to “hop” on lunar or Martian ground with increased grace, Daily Mail explains.
New technologies will deal with cooling and getting rid of carbon dioxide in a much more efficient manner, so exploring alien landscapes should be a less stressful experience.
The suit has an entry point at its back, whose purpose is that of helping space explorers get dressed or undressed faster than they were able to up until now. This entry point is fitted with a life support pack that allows the astronaut to attach himself either to a spacecraft, or to a rover.
Interestingly enough, the space suit is to operate at the same pressure as the one in the spacecraft, and the hatchet will simply not open as long as a pressure difference is identified. In order to control the pressure inside the suit, researchers made use of urethane-coated nylon and polyester layers.
This Z-1 prototype space suit will serve as a model for a new and improved version, the Z-2, which should be ready by the year 2015.
Since nobody can say for sure where astronomers will go next, researchers wish to make sure they are fully prepared to tackle whatever circumstances they might find themselves in.
“It's like you're trying to go on vacation, but you don't know if you're going to Antarctica, Miami, or Buckingham Palace,” said Amy Ross, lead of the space suit assembly technology development team.