A little less Buzz Lightyear and a little more Tron, NASA’s new Mars Z-2 spacesuit design, called Technology, is meant to pay homage “to spacesuit achievements of the past while incorporating subtle elements of the future.”
The design won just over 63% of the total vote in their crowdsourced spacesuit design challenge, beating two other suit designs, called Biomimicry and Trends in Society. If you’d like to see them, head over to the Z-2 Spacesuit Design website.
The suit, as you can see from the concept art, contains electroluminescent wiring that allows it to glow in configured patterns. Ultimately, the Z-series will be intended for use both in space and on the surfaces of other planets. That means Mars.
The Z-2 has also seen some upgrades compared to the Z-1:
“There are many key advances to be found in the Z-2 suit when compared to the previous Z-1. The most significant is that the Z-1 had a soft upper torso and the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso. This composite hard upper torso provides the much-needed long-term durability that a planetary Extravehicular Activity (EVA) suit will require.
The shoulder and hip joints differ significantly based on extensive evaluations performed during the last two years with the Z-1 to look at different ways of optimizing mobility of these complex joints. Lastly, the boots are much closer in nature to those that would be found on a suit ready for space, and the materials used on the Z-2 are compatible with a full-vacuum environment.”
Unfortunately, because the Z-series is still in the “prototype phase,” don’t expect to see astronauts heading into space wearing these any time soon. Just consider this another brief glimpse into the future of space exploration.