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← How to build a better spacesuit for a human mission to Mars | Allison Anderson | TEDxMileHigh

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Zeige Revision 13 erzeugt am 05/01/2020 von Rhonda Jacobs.

  1. Fifty years ago, this past July,
  2. humans set foot on the moon for first time
  3. and redefined how we think
    about our planet.
  4. Every time you've ever seen a person
    waking on the moon or in space,
  5. they've been wearing a spacesuit.
  6. The spacesuit embodies what it means
    to be a part of human kind -
  7. to explore and to achieve
    something we thought was impossible.
  8. But it's not just
    a simple piece of clothing.
  9. The spacesuit is one of the greatest
    technical engineering feat ever achieved.
  10. It does everything a spacecraft does
  11. to keep a person alive
  12. except it's wearable.
  13. But despite how advanced it is,
  14. the spacesuit is
    surprisingly dangerous to wear.
  15. You'd never know just by looking at it,
  16. but this suit injures astronauts:
  17. bruises, sprains, pinched nerves,
  18. and even lost fingernails.
  19. 23 astronauts have needed
    shoulder surgeries
  20. to repair injuries
    like torn rotator cuffs.
  21. If something like that happened
    on the surface of the moon or Mars,
  22. it could destroy the mission.
  23. Bottom line - improving the spacesuit
  24. is one of the biggest barriers
    to human space exploration
  25. that no one's talking about.
  26. I believe one of the most important things
    we can do to advance science
  27. is to send a human to Mars.
  28. We've learned so much
    from our robotic explorers,
  29. but they're so limited.
  30. One person on that planet's surface
  31. could unlock the history
    of how our solar system formed,
  32. or possibly even how life began.
  33. It'll take billions of dollars
    to send people to Mars,
  34. but you don't just go to Mars to stay
    inside your habitat the whole time.
  35. Astronauts will be exploring
    and wearing the suit
  36. a lot.
  37. With current NASA plans,
  38. if you sent five people
    to the surface for 500 days,
  39. that'd be about 1,000 space walks
  40. over the course of one mission.
  41. For perspective,
  42. we've done just over 400 spacewalks
  43. in the entire history
    of human space flight.
  44. That's an insane jump in capability.
  45. If we're going to pull this off -
    and I believe that we will -
  46. we need to radically
    redefine the spacesuit.
  47. I became interested in space exploration
  48. in the third grade
  49. when my teacher spent the day
    telling us about astronauts.
  50. It was the first time I really understood
    that people could go there.
  51. Since that time, human space flight
    has been the driving passion of my life.
  52. But I only began to understand
  53. how hard it is for astronauts
    to work inside their spacesuits
  54. when I went to graduate school.
  55. The spacesuit is pressurized with oxygen
    to allow people to breathe,
  56. but that pressure
    makes it stiff and rigid.
  57. Think about trying
    to make a balloon animal.
  58. When you bend the balloon,
  59. It wants to spring back
    to its original position.
  60. Engineers have tried to solve this problem
  61. by designing the suit's joints
    with pleats and bearings,
  62. but it still forces people
    to move in awkward and unnatural ways.
  63. To move in the suit,
  64. first you have to move your body
    until it makes contact with the suit.
  65. Only then does the suit
    itself start to move.
  66. You can't just reach up
    and touch your head,
  67. like this;
  68. instead, astronauts
    have to roll out their shoulder
  69. and then bend their elbow
    to touch their helmet.
  70. That's hard enough to remember
    how to do here on Earth,
  71. let alone when you're
    outside your spacecraft,
  72. travelling at over 17,000 miles per hour.
  73. Fit is another major issue.
  74. In March 2019,
  75. NASA had to cancel
    the first all-female spacewalk
  76. because the suits available
    didn't fit the crew members,
  77. and it would have taken too much time
  78. to put together a different suit,
    on orbit, that was the right size.
  79. So pressure plus fit
    is why astronauts get beat up
  80. every time they work inside the suit.
  81. And that's why I've dedicated my career
    to designing a better spacesuit.
  82. The first step is to understand
    how people move while wearing the suit.
  83. You can't just see inside
  84. to understand how and why
    astronauts are getting injured.
  85. So, together with
    my students at CU Boulder,
  86. we're developing wearable sensors
  87. to go inside
  88. to measure how people move
    and interact with the suit.
  89. With this data,
  90. we hope to be able to predict
  91. whether or not the suit
    will be comfortable
  92. or cause injuries
  93. after someone wears it
    a couple hundred times.
  94. When humans take their first steps
    onto the surface of Mars,
  95. their boots will make the first impact.
  96. Astronauts haven't needed
    to walk in their spacesuits
  97. since Apollo astronauts
    left the moon in 1972.
  98. Because the boot is also pressurized,
    the foot isn't secured inside of it.
  99. It'd be like wearing
    a pair of hiking shoes
  100. that are several sizes too large for you.
  101. Every time you take a step,
  102. the heel lifts out of the back,
  103. causing blisters, wasted energy
    and awkward movement.
  104. The thing is,
  105. if you get a blister on a hike,
    you just have a bad hike.
  106. If you get a blister
    on the surface of Mars,
  107. it's hard to do your job.
  108. And it can be even more painful than that.
  109. One astronaut had a boot issue -
  110. they said it felt
    like a knife's edge of pain.
  111. To design a better spacesuit boot,
  112. my student Aubie has built
    a four-dimensional motion capture system
  113. that measures the shape
    of the foot while walking.
  114. With this data,
  115. we plan to redesign
    how the foot fits inside the boot
  116. to ensure our astronauts
    can explore further and further.
  117. But if we really want to revolutionize
    spacesuits for Mars,
  118. we have to protect the body
  119. in a fundamentally
    different way than we do now.
  120. I believe the solution
    for a Martian spacesuit
  121. relies on a skin-tight elastic concept,
  122. first proposed in the 1960s
    by Dr. Paul Webb.
  123. It uses a concept called
    mechanical counterpressure,
  124. which means that rather than using
    an inflated garment
  125. to apply pressure to the skin,
  126. the suit itself squeezes the body.
  127. Unfortunately, these suits
    have never really gained traction,
  128. because it's so difficult
  129. to create pressure
    over the complex shapes of the body,
  130. like the armpit.
  131. When I was a graduate student,
    my adviser sent me to Italy
  132. to work with a company, Dainese,
    that designs motorcycle racing suits.
  133. David told me,
  134. "These people are the best designers
    you will ever meet."
  135. I want you to use your engineering skills
    with their design skills
  136. and design some mechanical
    counterpressure spacesuit prototypes."
  137. So, off to Italy I went.
  138. That summer was one of the most
    creative and inspiring experiences
  139. I have had as an engineer.
  140. Every day, Stefano and I would whip up
    some new spacesuit prototype,
  141. test it and then change the design,
  142. always getting closer to
    a mechanical counterpressure spacesuit,
  143. but we're still a long ways away
    from something that's spaceflight ready.
  144. Since that time, I've continued to work
    with this team of friends from MIT,
  145. the University of Minnesota,
  146. the Royal Melbourne Institute
    of Technology in Australia,
  147. David Clark company and NASA
  148. to continue pushing
    on these design issues.
  149. In my lab now,
  150. we're challenging how we think about using
    mechanical counterpressure in spacesuits.
  151. Instead of choosing
    either mechanical counterpressure
  152. or gas pressure,
  153. why can't we choose both?
  154. If we cut the design problem in half
  155. and apply, say, 50% of the pressure
    with a tight elastic suit layer
  156. and the other 50% with a traditional
    gas pressurized suit like we use now,
  157. we'd be able to protect our astronauts
    with a suit that's less stiff and rigid
  158. but also safer through redundancy.
  159. And a suit like that
  160. would enable a human mission to Mars.
  161. I believe I will be lucky enough
  162. to see people walking
    on the surface of Mars before I die.
  163. But to make a mission
    of that magnitude worthwhile,
  164. we have to ensure
    our astronauts stay safe.
  165. And we have to ensure
    they're able to explore and do science
  166. day after day after day.
  167. It's time to imagine a new design
    for our iconic spacesuit.
  168. Thank you.
  169. (Applause)