Grand space explorations come with state-of-the-art spacesuits.
The Z-series spacesuits are the next-generation spacesuit platform intended to protect NASA astronauts embarking on deep-space explorations, such as trips to Mars, and it will include sophisticated technology to enhance astronaut capabilities during spacewalks and on-ground activities in a foreign planet.
NASA's Z-2 Suit is the newest prototype in its line and "it takes the next step in fidelity approaching a final flight-capable design." The exciting part? NASA says it is bound to pave several milestones for space exploration. Aside from its basic functions, its cover layer is of prime importance too, as the design would highlight particular mobility features for testing.
When its predecessor Z-1 was introduced, it had neon green-colored stripes on the arms and legs, which reminded a lot of the popular Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear. The spacesuit that entered Time magazine's best inventions of the year in 2012 registered well to the public, it even earned its moniker "Buzz Lightyear Suit."
"After the positive response to the Z-1 suit's visual design we received, we wanted to take the opportunity to provide this new suit with an equally memorable appearance. The cover layer of a prototype suit is important as it serves to protect the suit against abrasion and snags during the rigors of testing," NASA said in a statement.
Now, the public has spoken.
With 233,431 hits, the design "Technology" has won the hearts of voters, comprising 63.1 percent of the overall votes, beating two other options "Mimicry" and "Trends in Society" that garnered 22.7 and 14.1, respectively. The design will be included in the final version of the suit, which is set for testing by November 2014.
The voters preferred "Technology" as it seemed to represent man's quest in space through the years better than "Mimicry," which represented harshness of the world's oceans similar to space environment, and "Trends in Society," a design that gives a taste of fashion into the future.
What makes "Technology" unique is the light-emitting patches and the luminescent wire attributes that can be altered and help astronauts identify each other in space.
Z-2 will undergo a series of stringent tests at the NASA's Johnson Space Center in the huge indoor pool of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab used to train astronauts how to walk in space. The prototype will also be tested in multiple vacuum chambers and at the site at Johnson that is similar to the Martian ground.
"Each iteration of the Z-series will advance new technologies that one day will be used in a suit worn by the first humans to step foot on the Red Planet," it added.