The Spacesuit Simulator Aouda

A "Space Ship to wear" for missions on the red planet.

“Aouda.X” is the advanced spacesuit simulator for future human Mars missions of the Austrian Space Forum. This prototype emulates the restrictions of an actual planetary surface spacesuit, like weight, resistance or limited sensory input, whilst protecting the (analog) astronaut from the environment and keeping him/her alive. An elaborate human-machine interface, including a sensor network and specifically developed software assists the astronaut during planetary surface operations. The 45kg heavy prototype has been developed to optimize interactions with other (robotic) components, like a rover, and minimize the risk of human contamination.The Aouda suits are operated by carefully selected and trained analog astronauts of the Austrian Space Forum.

 

Der Aouda Raumanzug-Simulator: ein 45kg-schweres "Raumschiff zum Anziehen".

The Aouda spacesuit simulator: a 45 kg “spaceship to wear”.

What is our Spacesuit Simulator capable of?

Apart from restrictions to movement and senses, it is designed to minimize a biological of contamination of soil samples. Our research has shown that the physiological workload while wearing a spacesuit is an important factor for mission planning. By using an up to date human-machine interface it also acts as a virtual assistant for the astronaut, something which has not been possible, for example, with the spacesuits worn during the lunar landings. The analog astronaut can eat and drink inside the suit, has a voice command an gesture control (in development) for a built-in Head-Up Display. Aouda is able to interact with robotic mission elements, like rovers or geoscientific equipment.

System-Overview

  • <45kg Hard-Upper-Torso, supplied with ambient air (in order to correctly replicate the weight to strength ratio present on Mars)
  • Outer hull: Panox/Kevlar composite textile with aluminum coating
  • An adjustable exoskeleton which can simulate various pressure admissions on Mars
  • Biomedical and technical telemetry via broadband-WiFi (including of video, audio, temperature, Co2/O2 sensors, GPS, air pressure/humidity, acceleration…)
  • Human-Machine interface including speach recognition and acceleration sensors.

 

Infographic about Aouda.X/Aouda.S spacesuits

Selected publications (for recent references please consult the OeWF publication list):

(1) G.E. Groemer, M. Storrie-Lombardi, B. Sattler, O. Hauser, K. Bickert, E. Hauth, S. Hauth, U. Luger, D. Schildhammer, D. Foeger, J. Klauck: “Reducing biological contamination by a space suited astronaut: Laboratory and field test results from Aouda.X”, Acta Astronautica (2010)
(2) G. Groemer, B. Sattler, U. Luger: „Preliminary Analysis of Spacesuit Contamination Vectors during a simulated crewed Mars surface expedition”, Conf. Proc. of the Joint meeting of the EPSC & DPS, Nantes, Oct 2011, p 1-2.
(3) G. Groemer, et al: “The Aouda.X Space Suit Simulator and Its Applications to Astrobiology”, ASTROBIOLOGY, Volume 12, Number 2, 2012

 

Aouda.X und Aouda.S beim MARS2013 Feldtest in der Nordsahara.

Aouda.X and Aouda.S during the MARS2013 field simulation in the Northern Sahara.

Performance Data:

  • Weight: 45kg on Earth (this corresponds to a mass of 120kg, weighing in at 45 kg on Mars)
  • Operating time with one battery charge, measured from locking of helmet: 4-6 hrs (depends on individual usage and ambient temperature)
  • Donning time of suit: 3 hrs
  • WiFi range >1km

Versions

  • Aouda.X & Aouda.S: These are the spacesuit simulators which are deployed on field missions. In order to wear one of these suits, a certificate by the Austrian Space Forum is mandatory.
  • Aouda.A & Aouda.D: These are non-operational versions for exhibitions/museums

Frequently asked Questions

Can I have a go in the suit? – We are sorry, but no. Only certificated analog astronauts are allowed to work with Aouda.

We need the suit for a movie or an exhibition – is this possible? – Under certain circumstances, the two museum-versions (Aouda.A & Aouda.D) can be given as a loan, but not the full working versions.

Can I visit the Spacesuit-Lab of the Austrian Space Forum? – While the lab is not publicly available, rare exceptions are possible, for example for a group of technically interested peers.

 

Images of Aouda

 

This article is available in: German