When on Mars, jump, don’t run. That’s one of the many findings Dava Newman, aerospace engineer and spacesuit designer at MIT, has learned from her research on human performance in space. “On Earth, if you run, you get there faster but you use more energy,” says Newman. “In the Martian environment, a loping locomotion is faster and uses less energy.”
Her response to the rigid and cumbersome traditional version [of space suits] is the BioSuit (shown here), an outfit designed as a second skin. It uses nickel titanium shape-memory alloys and applies the correct pressure to the human body (equivalent to 30 per cent of Earth’s atmosphere) — but it’s flexible enough to put on and take off in minutes. “We’ve discovered that this material is the best in terms of mimicking human performance,” says Newman.