Watch! Aouda.X: the prototype spacesuit for Mars exploration
Dr Gernot Groomer has designed the suit to be the "smartest" suit yet
Dr Groomer's team at the Austrian Space Forum face competition from other suits
The finished suit will be a "spacecraft to wear," says Groomer
It takes Dr Gernot Groomer three hours to put on the spacesuit he hopes will, one day, walk across the surface of Mars.
It’s worth taking time when you’re wearing a suit made from roughly 10,000 parts, designed for the most treacherous environment yet to be encountered by a human being.
Groomer is the Austrian astrobiologist responsible for building a spacesuit for the Mars explorers of tomorrow – and he’s taking inspiration from armor worn by medieval knights.
He explains that – after the titanic effort required to get there – simply surviving on the red planet will be a grueling battle.
Groomer paints a terrifying picture of an astronaut’s view over the Martian landscape: abrasive particles of glassy sand, whipped into dust-storms (with wind speeds of 200kph/125mph); Galactic cosmic rays of radiation, with only the thinnest atmosphere to block it; temperatures plummeting to minus 130 degrees Celsius.
It’s an environment the enthusiastic scientist refers to – without risking exaggeration – as “fairly” hostile.
Aouda.X: a wearable spacecraft
In a small research facility – nestled among the Alps in Innsbruck, Austria – Groomer’s team at the Austrian Space Forum are developing a suit to withstand the challenge. The result: a “spacecraft to wear.”
The 45 kilogram suit incorporates air and power supplies, communication devices, sensors to take biometric readings, and ventilation – plus all the facilities required to allow the astronaut to eat, drink and (even) scratch their nose while away from base.
It’s a robotic creation with all the life-supports systems of a conventional spacesuit but with added capabilities needed to operate all alone on a distant planet – where fast communication with earth is impossible.
There, the suit will have to double as