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7 students create the first pressurized Martian space suit printed in 3D

Seven students from École Polytechnique created a space suit intended for use on Mars. Designed with materials adapted to Martian life, this pressurized functional space suit was custom-made taking into account the atmospheric conditions of Mars.

Up till now, space agencies do not yet have created space suits adapted to the surface conditions of the planet Mars, while space missions involving the sending of man to Mars should be projected in the coming decades. Seven École Polytechnique students embarked on a challenge as part of their 2nd-year collective scientific project: designing and manufacturing an operational and efficient space suit appropriate to Martian life. To this end, students received technical and logistical assistance from the Association Planète Mars and financial support from École Polytechnique's Directorate for Education and Research.

The group of students carried out more than one hundred measurements on one of their comrades in order to be able to model the space suit in 3D. In parallel, they took the initiative to create their own 3D printers, in order to print the entire suit. The space suit is assembled in a modular manner, allowing easy maintenance of its components. This innovation offers flexibility, as explained by Thibault Paris, student of the X 2015 class: "With the 3D printer, we can imagine, design and manufacture space suits, repair them and even recycle." A technical feat never achieved before.

The suit called X-1, is designed to guarantee optimal autonomy and to provide the user with the tools necessary to carry out his or her missions. It integrates an on-board computer that measures many parameters in real time in the immediate environment and the consumption of the resources of the space suit. It allows both to automatically regulate the temperature of the integrated refrigerant underwear and to send alerts to the wearer in case of malfunctions. The majority of the controls are gathered at the level of the gloves for easy access.

Thibault Paris and Arno Passeron, two of the project's participants, were selected for the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS 185) mission organized by the American Mars Society. From December 16th to 31st, 2017, they will stay in the Utah desert to test their prototype that could prefigure the future space suits worn on the red planet.