Astronauts can lose 1-2% of their skeletal mass for each month that they spend in very low gravity. After a several months, this loss can become a serious health problem. But a new MIT-designed outfit called the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit may help counteract this problem:
With stirrups that loop around the feet, the elastic gravity skinsuit is purposely cut too short for the astronaut so that it stretches when put on—pulling the wearer’s shoulders towards the feet. In normal gravity conditions on Earth, a human’s legs bear more weight than the torso. Because the suit’s legs stretch more than the torso section, the wearer’s legs are subjected to a greater force—replicating gravity effects on Earth.
The prototype suit testing took place on parabolic flights that created brief periods of weightlessness. Results showed that the suit successfully imitated the pull of gravity on the torso and thighs, but it did not exert enough force on the lower legs. Researchers are now refining the suit’s design to address this; they also plan to test the suit to see how it performs when worn overnight.
http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-10/superhero-style-skin-tight-spacesuit-provides-healthy-compression-astronauts | Photo: MIT/James Waldie