Thermal Modeling of Mechanical Counterpressure Spacesuit EVA



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2020 International Conference on Environmental Systems


Mechanical counterpressure (MCP) spacesuits offer several advantages over traditional gas-pressurized suits including lower energy cost of transport, reduced risk of decompression due to suit tear or puncture, and increased astronaut comfort. They may also simplify thermoregulation by allowing perspiration to evaporate and cool an astronaut, eliminating the need for a Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment (LCVG) and other life support system hardware currently used in NASA’s Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suit. The BioSuitTM is an MCP concept being developed at MIT primarily for planetary extravehicular activity (EVA) on the Moon and Mars. In this paper we simulate the thermoregulation system of the BioSuitTM to assess the feasibility of relying on perspiration to provide cooling. Thermal modeling of EVA on lunar and Martian surfaces was conducted to assess the performance of MCP spacesuit garments in protecting astronauts from the extreme temperatures and harsh radiation environments of those locations. This modeling included new proposed radiation protection and insulating materials as well as a passive elastic compressive layer. Results were computed for both male and female astronauts, helping to identify suit design differences that will be needed to accommodate both men and women who will conduct future EVAs. This work is used to inform future design requirements for the suit's thermal management system. Overall, this research advances the development of life support systems for a full MCP spacesuit and lessons learned can be applied for future engineering prototypes.


Jeremy Stroming, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US
Dava Newman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 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.


Life support system, BioSuit, Thermal, Thermal modeling, Thermoregulation, Mechanical counterpressure, Space activity suit, Extravehicular activity (EVA)