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Science Project  
Which  Combination of Materials Are Best For Mars Temperatures?

Researched by Matt Brown



The purpose of this experiment was to find out which type of fabric combinations could be used in space suits for astronauts exploring Mars.  I am not concerned about the heating and cooling system that NASA uses in their spacesuits.  I am also not concerned about how NASA keeps the suits pressurized.

I became interested in this idea because I thought it would be fun to do.  I got my information from a packet about space and space suits.

The information gained from this experiment may help NASA test different types of space suit fabrics for Mars. "On Mars, a Space Shuttle style spacesuit would weigh about 43 Kilograms, exhausting the astronaut who has to wear it for long periods of time for exploration." (Suited for Space Walking, 41)  Spacesuits for Mars need to be lightweight. The spacesuit prototypes I designed are lightweight.


My hypothesis is that spacesuit prototype #3 will be the prototype that will conserve more heat than prototypes #1 and #2.  Prototype #3 has 6 layers. It has foam, fleece, and camouflage for warmth.  #2 has 5 layers.  It has foam and camouflage for warmth.  #1 has 7 layers.  It has fleece, Aluminized Mylar, and camouflage for warmth. to top of page

I base my hypothesis on the fact that this prototype is very thick and heavy.  In my preliminary test of the extreme cold environment, prototype #3 had the warmest temperature.


The constants in this study were 
* Number of tests of each spacesuit prototype, (3).
* Size of water containers
* Amount of water in containers.
* Time of exposure to warm and cold conditions.
* Type of thermometer
* The temperatures that the combinations were tested in

The manipulated variable was the combination of fabrics used for each prototype.

To evaluate the responding variable I measured the water temperature at the start of the experiment and at the end.  I also used a thermometer outside the prototype to measure the air temperature.  All temperatures were measured in degrees Celsius. to top of page


Mercury Thermometers (Celsius)
30cmx30cmx37cm Polyester Lycra fabric
31.4cmx31.4cmx38.4cm Camouflage fabric
30.5cmx30.5cmx37.5cm  Fleece fabric
30.8cmx30.8cmx37.8cm  Aluminized Mylar
30cmx30cmx37cm foam fabric
32.5cmx32.5cmx39.5cm Flannel Backed Vinyl 
32cmx32cmx39cm  Vinyl
31.3cmx31.3cmx38.3cm Rubber Coated Nylon
32cmx32cmx39cm Nylon Cordura fabric
1 pair Scissors
1 bottle Liquid Stitch™
1 spool Brown Thread
1 Sewing Needle
1 Heating Device
Plastic Containers
1 Ice Chest Cooler
10 kilo. Dry Ice
1,273mL Water
1 pair Rubber Gloves

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1. Cut out fabrics 
2. Make three different combinations of fabrics. 
3. Once the fabric combinations are complete, glue the fabrics for each combination together.
4. Sew all edges of prototypes together except for top.
5. Sew Velcro® around lids of prototypes 
6. Fill plastic container with water to top (make sure temperature is close to 37* C.)
7. Put thermometer in bottle to get starting temperature.
8. Slide bottle in spacesuit prototypes.
9. Velcro lid to the body of spacesuit.
10. Place heaters around spacesuit prototypes.
11. Measure temperature of outside environment.
12. Wait 1 hour and record temperature.
13. Repeat steps 1-12 for cold environment except: Place spacesuit prototypes in freezer.
14. Repeat steps 1-12 for cold environment except: Place spacesuit prototypes in cooler with dry ice. to top of page


The original purpose of this experiment was to find out which type of fabric combinations could be used in space suits for astronauts exploring Mars. The results of the experiment were mixed.

Prototype #1 (with seven layers of fabrics) and Prototype #3 (with six layers) each showed the closest relationship in average net temperature change.  Prototype #2 (with five layers of fabric) had the greatest average net temperature change (see the tables and graphs on the following pages).




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My hypothesis was that spacesuit prototype #3 will be the prototype that will conserve more heat than prototypes  #1 and #2.  The results indicate that this hypothesis should be accepted because prototype #3 had the least average change in temperature. 

Because of the results of this experiment, I wonder if the temperature of the surface the prototypes were sitting on could affect the temperature inside the containers.

The usefulness of my findings is that it may be possible to use some of these fabrics in spacesuits for Mars.  NASA wants to design spacesuits for Mars to be lightweight.  My prototypes were lightweight.  This experiment was limited to analyzing the effects of the environment on temperature change of an object inside the prototype spacesuits. 

If I were to conduct this project again, I would test for durability and tensile strength for protection from damage due to jagged rocks and micrometeoroids.



The following information is about space suits, extravehicular mobility units, moon walking, life support systems, Mars, and heat.

An Astronaut’s Wardrobe

Inside the shuttle, astronauts have a wardrobe of clothing including flight suits (which they work in inside the shuttle), knit shirts; lined zipper jackets sleep shorts, underwear, and soft slippers.  Every type of clothing the astronauts have is flame retardant.  Pockets on the clothes are used for carrying pencils, pens, sunglasses, scissors, data books, and a multipurpose Swiss army pocketknife.

What is a Space Suit?

Humans must wear a special kind of suit that supplies oxygen for breathing and maintains a pressure around the human to keep bodily fluids in a liquid state.  Astronauts must wear these "space suits" above 63,000 feet.  Space suits are pressurized at 4.3 lb. per square inch.  But since the gas is 100% oxygen instead 20%, the human is able to breathe better than at 10,000 ft. or even at sea level without the suit.  An astronaut has to breathe pure oxygen for several hours before going outside the shuttle.  This is done to get nitrogen dissolved in the body out.  Space suits made for the space station era will be pressurized at 8.3 lb. per square inch so the pre-breathing periods will be shortened or diminished.  The space suit provides protection to the astronaut from micrometeoroids.

Life-Support Systems

A life-support system makes a hostile environment like the environment on earth.  Multi-manned life-support systems usually contain air, water, food, and controlled temperature and humidity.  The life-support systems also collect, store, and dispose bodily wastes and trash.  There are three types of spacecraft life-support systems. There are open, semi-closed, and closed.  Semi-closed systems are used in all manned spacecraft.  The life-support system of the Skylab space station had an environmental-control subsystem, a food and water management subsystem, and a waste subsystem.  It also had arrangements for sleeping, personal hygiene, emergency medical attention, and astronaut health meters.


Astronauts have to wear Extravehicular Mobility Units (E.M.U.’s) while working in the open cargo bay.  The E.M.U. is supposed to be more durable and flexible than the earlier space suit.  The E.M.U. is interchangeable to fit men and women of all sizes.

A Little More about Space Suits

People know that space suits let astronauts leave the shuttle and go do their duties in space.  The space suit must be airtight, it needs to have insulation, it needs an air and water supply, protection against micrometeoroids, and flexible joints.  The spacesuit design for Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Vostok, and Soyuz missions were made by tailors and were very expensive.

The Apollo Mission

The Apollo Program happened in the 1960s, it was when the U.S. first attempted to put an American on the moon.  It was a $25,000,000,000 project.  NASA employed 400,000 people at one point.  The budget of the agency shrank after the Apollo mission. 
The mission would also call for a new spacesuit.  The suits needed to be flexible; they had to be functional in microgravity, and in the 1/6 of gravity on the moon.  The Apollo spacesuit also had a liquid cooling device, which was used to keep astronauts the right temperature.  Since in space at the same distance from the sun as earth the temperature in the sun can be as hot as 120* C, devices like this are very useful. 

Moon Walking

The space suit protected astronauts from the heat of each lunar day and from jagged rocks.  But bending down collecting samples from the moon was a problem.  There was also the constant pelting of micrometeoroids on the lunar surface.  Space suit designers designed a suit that has a liquid cooling system, keeping the astronaut the right temperature.

Planet Mars

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is most like Earth.  It has four seasons and a thin atmosphere like Earth.  Its average distance from the sun is 228,000,000 kilometers. Its maximum distance from the Earth is 399,000,000 kilometers.  Mars’ surface temperature is usually cold.  Its temperature ranges from -125º C to 25º C.  Valles Marineris is the largest canyon on Mars and in the solar system.  Olympus Mons is also the largest volcano on Mars and in the solar system.


Heat capacity of an object is how much heat energy it takes to raise the temperature of the object by one degree.  The heats of most objects remain basically constant over the common range of temperature.  However, some heats may be smaller in some extremely low temperatures.


The words above tell about heat, life-support systems and how they work, what space suits are and what they do, moon walking, Extravehicular Mobility Units (E.M.U.’s), an astronauts wardrobe, and more about space suits.


Office of Human Resources and Education, "Suited For Spacewalking," Washington D.C.

Poster, "Postcards From Mars," Lunar Planetary Institute,NASA 

Settles, Gary, "Heat Capacity" Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995

Sharpe, Mitchell, Life Support Systems, Grolier’s Multimedia Encyclopedia, 1995

Space Educators Handbook, [Online] Available at, Tuesday, January 4, 2000


Mars Activities [Online] Available

Mars Activities [Online] Available

Mars Activities [Online] Available

Mars Bases [Online] Available

Mars Bases [Online] Available

Mars Bases [Online] Available

Lunar Activities [Online] Available

Mars vehicles [Online] Available

Mars Pathfinder [Online] Available

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