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Motorcycle Gear on Mars

Posted on Jan 11, 2016
Dr.Dava Newman, Deputy Administrator of NASA and Biosuit developer, photo by Douglas Sonders

Recently it seems increased public curiosity in space exploration has been sparked. News and movies about Mars appear to have re-piqued an interest in what lies beyond the moon. NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency) estimate that a manned mission to Mars will happen as soon as 2030, and in that preparation process, motorcycle gear has been called upon to help keep the explorers safe.

While in space over long periods of time, astronauts’ bodies will change. Their spines will actually decompress and elongate, leading to herniated disks and spinal injuries when they initially return to the gravity of Earth. To counteract that, MIT, along with NASA, has been working with the Italian motorcycle gear company Dianese to create two suits: an antigravity suit and a sleek high-tech compression suit to replace traditional spacesuits.

The Skinsuit

The new spacesuit, called the “Biosuit,” works by interlacing mechanically activated filaments along areas in the body termed “lines of so-called nonextension” (LoNE). These lines are the areas in the body that neither expand nor contract during movement, and are compressible without being restrictive.

The “Skinsuit” has been developed to counteract the negative effects of long-term gravity depravation. Although less flashy than the Biosuit, it’s a mechanically impressive piece of equipment. The suit is a two-part tech with the top portion being a ridged material, and the bottom being comprised of gray nylon belts with white compression points. The belts are tightened to constrict the suit, which then compresses from shoulder to feet to create the simulation of gravity.

Both the Biosuit and Skinsuit are custom-tailored to each individual. The woman featured in the picture with her custom suit is actually Dr. Dava Newman, Deputy Administrator of NASA, who helped develop the Biosuit technology with Dainese while a researcher at MIT. Dainese is no stranger to development since its first product of motocross pants in 1972, followed by the release of a back protector (1978), knee sliders (1980), leather racing humps (1988), toe sliders (1993), carbon fiber/Kevlar gloves (1995) and now airbag-equipped leathers (D-Airbag technology, 2000).

With all of these developments it’s an exciting age to follow space travel, with mankind heading to Mars, and motorcycle gear going with them.

Dr. Dava Newman, photo by Douglas Sonders

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Written by: Melissa Juranitch

Photo Credit: Douglas Sonders