It's one thing for a suit to make you feel confident at the office, but it's another for it to sustain life on another planet. Now NASA is about to find out if its newest suit, the Z-2, can do just that.
The Z-2 has perhaps the most interesting backstory of any garment a man will slip into in the coming year. NASA wants to put people on the Red Planet by the 2030s, so it redesigned its space suit to include portable life support systems and make them easier to put on, take off, and move around in. The agency asked the public to vote on its favorite of three versions of the suit, seen below. The model that looks like a costume from Tron (its lighted panels make it easier for astronauts to see and be seen in space) got 63% of the vote.
While this isn't the final version of the suit, its innovations will more than likely be included in the suit that goes to Mars. But its cover layer, which includes the lighting design, is scheduled to go into testing this November.
"The cover layer on flight suits used for spacewalks performs many other important functions like protecting the spacewalker from micrometeorite strikes, the extreme temperatures in space and the harmful effects of radiation," NASA wrote in a statement. If only tropical wool could do all that, too.
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.