Apparently, the amazing experience of space travel does have its drawbacks. Limited opportunities to exercise, socialize, sleep right, and eat regularly can lead to serious bouts of depression for astronauts. This observation led researchers at Florida Polytechnic University to develop a new component for spacesuits that will not only improve comfort but also provide environmental adjustments that can help keep astronauts in a more positive frame of mind.
Called the Smart Sensory Skin (S3), the new technology will detect emotional and physical deficiencies using wireless sensors within the suit. They will then initiate a response that could include changes in temperature, light exposure, light color or oxygen levels. Eventually, the team would like to incorporate these wireless sensors into an astronaut’s clothing so physicians on Earth could monitor pulse rate, blood pressure, and joint angles, as well as the impact of the changes initiated by the sensors.
While variations of the S3 already exist, making it lighter and more ergonomic should help with adoption levels and improve monitoring capabilities. The research recently won a grant from NASA's Florida Space Research Program for its end goal of making astronauts happier, safer, fitter, and more productive.