A Brief Look at how Analog Space Suits Help to Develop Future of Planetary Extra Vehicular Activities

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) study currently being conducted on the slopes of Mauna Loa focuses on human factors and group cohesion. Both of these focuses are vitally important for Extra Vehicular Activities (EVAs) and for future planetary exploration; providing constraints that could make or break a mission. The Apollo missions broadened humanities reach into the space through stringent training and an understanding of the minimal human factors requirements to support a two man EVA team. These early lunar EVAs performed localized analysis and sample collection around the lunar landing sites leading to discoveries that helped to define the origins of the moon.  

Why were these Apollo missions so successful? I am not sure that this can be narrowed down to just one factor and was certainly due in part to dynamic training, technological development, and crew selection (Having 1% of the US GDP didn’t hurt either). The Apollo missions developed an early standard for planetary EVAs and are responsible for significant knowledge on the challenges of exploring another planetary body. These missions helped to pave the way for man’s next curious tip toe into the solar system.

Researchers have already begun utilizing planetary analog sites to explore the best methods for future manned exploration. Analog sites such as the HI-SEAS allow a crew to work and live in isolation while attempting to perform scientific objectives and EVAs as they would if they were suddenly transplanted to Mars. Even within the safety of Earth’s biosphere EVAs have the highest potential for real injury and require teams to develop procedures and strict guidelines to ensure safety. The crew at the HI-SEAS treats the outside as if it was an inhospitable environment and they never leave the habitat without an analog suit.

To accommodate the Mars simulation the HI-SEAS provides two styles of analog suits, the MX-C developed by the University of Maryland and a modified Hazmat suit. The MX-C has been designed to simulate the mobility issues caused by pressurized suits and weighs about 50 pounds. This suit comes with a ventilation system that pushes outside ambient air through the suit and a liquid cooling garment (LCG) system to keep the occupant cooler. The Hazmat suits have been modified with two ventilation fans that pull outside air into the suit to help keep air flow and to keep the occupant cool. Both suits isolate and restrict the crew members’ mobility while on EVA allowing for a more realistic EVA experience.

Above: Tiffany Swarmer poses for a photo in the modified Hazmat suit while setting up an agility course to test the suit capabilities.


Above: Annie Caraccio tests out fine motor control with the University of Maryland’s MX-C suit.

So how does understanding the limitations and capabilities of suits designed for terrestrial analogs help develop the next generation EVA suits and equipment? Analog suits can look realistic or can seem a little farfetched, but both serve as valuable tools in understanding the concerns for manned exploration of other worlds. The HI-SEAS utilizes it unique location and geologic similarity to the Martian Tharsis region to test out scientific sampling techniques, analysis of suit metrics, and development of safe EVA practices. Teams of two to four crew members can exit the habitat utilizing either suit type to explore the surrounding area, collect samples, map the area, and provide visual data much like the Apollo astronauts and eventually like the first Martian explorers. The technologies and procedures developed at these analog sites will be important for ensuring the safety of future Marsonaut explorers.

Above: HI-SEAS crew members Tiffany Swarmer (Hazmat) and Annie Caraccio (MX-C) test out the capabilities between the two analog suits by manipulating various types of tools and equipment. Seen in the background is the HI-SEAS habitat and the lava fields on the slopes of Mauna Loa.



Views: 166


You need to be a member of SAGANet to add comments!

Join SAGANet


  • Add Photos
  • View All

Blog Posts

The 5th Mexican School of Astrobiology

Posted by Tardigrelda on June 24, 2019 at 1:00pm 0 Comments

I am really glad to invite everyone to the next Mexican School of Astrobiology (aka EMA) which is this August.

¡Anímate a participar en la 5ta Escuela Mexicana de…


A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabli…

Posted by Wolf D. Geppert on February 24, 2019 at 1:33am 0 Comments

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabling Europe to emerge as a key player in Astrobiology and to…


AbSciCon session on life in high salt habitats

Posted by Jeff Bowman on December 14, 2018 at 8:12am 0 Comments

Abstract submissions are open for AbSciCon 2019!  You can check out the full selection of sessions here, however, I'd like to draw your attention toward the session Salty Goodness: Understanding life, biosignature…


vemala Network

Posted by Apit Supriatna on October 7, 2018 at 1:07am 0 Comments

Vemala.com merupakan situs yang membahas seputar gaya hidup, dengan berbagai macam informasi kesehatan, olahraga, Fitness, review, kecantikan, relationship,Lifestile, Tips kehamilan,Fashion dan lain sebagainya.


  • Add Videos
  • View All


Ask your questions here!

Started by Gina Riggio in SAGANet Discussions. Last reply by Jacob Haqq-Misra on Saturday. 37 Replies

If you are trying to ask a question live during Ask an Astrobiologist, please do so in the main chatroom at the bottom of the screen! You can also ask on twitter…Continue

Spiritual connection

Started by MOHIT Kakkar in The Cutting-Edge of Astrobiology Jun 15. 0 Replies

Hi pls answer my spiritual questions.Continue

Conference "Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life", Tällberg, Siljan crater area, Sweden, 10-13 June 2019

Started by Wolf D. Geppert in Upcoming Conferences / Workshops Mar 12. 0 Replies

We would like to invite you to participate in the conference:Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of LifeTällberg, Siljan crater area, Sweden, 10-13 June 2019Topics covered by the conference will…Continue

Postdoctoral Research in Microbial Nitrogen Cycling at Ames

Started by Melissa Kirven-Brooks in Jobs / Post-docs / Other opportunities Nov 28, 2018. 0 Replies

The Bay Area Environmental Research (BAER) Institute is seeking a full-time postdoctoral researcher to perform measurements of nitrogen cycling in photosynthetic microbial mats at NASA’s Ames…Continue

Tags: cycling, nitrogen, doc, Post

© 2019   Blue Marble Space, a non-profit organization committed to science and science outreach.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service