Advanced Thermal, Radiation, and Dust Protection for Spacesuits and Space Systems



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


Future planetary exploration missions will directly expose astronauts to constant galactic cosmic radiation (GCR). To send humans back to the lunar surface and on to Mars, NASA, academia and industry must develop the methods to protect astronauts from potentially lethal radiation. Without the Earth’s magnetosphere to protect astronauts from ionizing radiation in deep space, long-duration missions may result in unacceptable radiation doses. We propose a concept for the advancement of Mars human exploration – a hydrogen-enriched boron-10 (10B) nitride nanotube (H-10BNNT), carbon nanotube (CNT), polyethylene (PE), and aerogel spacesuit thermal, radiation, and dust protection garment (TRDG). We propose this novel concept for astronaut and space system protection by layering H-10BNNT for its radiation shielding capabilities with aerogel polyimide, for its thermal insulation properties. The layers will be encapsulated by PE thin films whose thermal directionality will allow metabolic heat to be dissipated during high-workload EVAs. The PE encapsulated H-10BNNT and aerogels will be covered with CNT sheets that can provide active dust removal and active heating. By incorporating the hydrogen-rich 10B nanomaterial into spacesuit fabrication, space structures and habitats, the cumulative doses expected for exploration-class planetary missions will be significantly reduced to help enable safe human Mars missions. We envision incorporating the advanced TRDG into advanced spacesuit designs, such as the mechanical counter pressure MIT BioSuit™, as an over-layer much like extreme winter clothing. Because of its flexibility, our proposed material system is also applicable for space electronics shielding, future space structures and smart habitats.


Cody Paige, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US
Dava Newman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US
Jonah Peter, Harvard University, US
ICES400: Extravehicular Activity: Space Suits
The proceedings for the 2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems were published from July 31, 2020. The technical papers were not presented in person due to the inability to hold the event as scheduled in Lisbon, Portugal because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.


Radiation protection, Ionizing radiation, Spacesuits, Thermal micrometeoroid garment, Radiation shielding