What to wear on Mars

NASA has unveiled the design of its next-gen space suit

NASA released details of the new, more flexible apparel being designed for long-distance travelers — such as those bound for another planet.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has just revealed its Z-2 space suit. Though its styling suggests 1980s sci-fi, this astronaut apparel has been designed for the future. It is the second mock-up of a suit that NASA hopes will eventually protect explorers walking on Mars or drilling into an asteroid. “Space suit design is [based] on where you’re going and what you’re doing,” explains Amy Ross. A space suit designer, she works at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

One of the Z-2’s most important features is its lower-body flexibility. This suit allows astronauts to walk, climb and crouch as they explore extraterrestrial landscapes.

By November, NASA should have a prototype ready for testing. It will host Tron-like, blue luminescent patches. Why? These were selected by the public in an Internet poll.

Unfortunately, NASA has no plans to include those aesthetics on the final version of the suit. The space agency hopes to have the new outerwear ready for launch by 2018.

Power Words

aesthetics   The attractiveness or outward beauty of something, such as a piece art, automobile or web page.

asteroid  A rocky object in orbit around the sun. Most orbit in a region that falls between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers refer to this region as the asteroid belt.

astronaut  People trained to travel into space for research and exploration.

extraterrestrial  Anything of or from regions beyond Earth.

luminescence    The glow produced by a chemical process at relatively low temperatures. Some animals are able to luminesce, based on chemical reactions inside their bodies.

mock-up     A full-scale model of something so that it can be viewed or tested.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration  Created in 1958, this U.S. agency has become a leader in space research and in stimulating public interest in space exploration. It was through NASA that the United States sent people into orbit and ultimately to the moon. It has also sent research craft to study planets and other celestial objects in our solar system.

prototype  A first or early model of some device that still needs to be perfected.

More Stories from Science News Explores on Space