Despite developing innovative ways of combating radiation, micro gravity and how to go to the bathroom in space, we still have yet to solve the space glove dilemma which can cause an unlucky astronaut to lose their fingernails.
Fortunately researchers are working on a solution, although it looks like Dava Newman (who is a professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems) may actually have a solution for us.
As part of her ongoing research on EVA performance, Newman is exploring how robotic technology can work in parallel with gas-pressurized suits, including ways to use actuators to help hand muscles fight against pressurized gloves.
She has also spent several years developing technology for the MIT BioSuit, a spacesuit that relies on mechanical counterpressure to enhance astronaut performance. Instead of pressurizing the air inside a bulky spacesuit, the BioSuit applies pressure directly to the skin through tightly wrapped layers of flexible material that function like a “second skin” and enable enhanced mobility and flexibility. Using mechanical counterpressure would get around the hand problem that results from traditional spacesuits, Newman said. (MIT News)
This is great news to hear as it means future explorers will be able to comfortably explore the final frontier in person instead of using robots to perform the most basic tasks such as picking up rocks, digging small holes, etc.
It will also help encourage people to explore off world themselves as fears of damaged nails could severely deter the masses from wearing space gloves (let alone space suits).
While Newman’s approach has yet to provide a solution to the nail drama, it hopefully is a step in the right direction.
(via Physorg.com, Image Credit: Patrick Gillooly)