Mars Advanced Glove Engineers

NASA plans to put humans on Mars by 2032. For humans to explore, work and live on Mars, among other things, humans will need well engineered, maintainable, life supporting and highly tactile gloves. Making gloves for human use on Mars requires design. Design as a practice, is all about the design process. This, then, is the mission of this project: To Research and Develop a Process for Designing Gloves for Human Use on Mars.

About Us

M.A.G.E. Mars Advanced Glove Engineers, are a team of five senior undergraduate engineering students in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering. This project fulfils the Senior Capstone requirement for graduation. Our hand-picked team and this project were the brainchild of our Project Manager: Erin McClean.

My Roles

My roles across this project included literature review, tracking down and interviewing subject matter experts, developing an off-world glove design process, learning to sew, purchasing glove making materials, 3D modelling, 3D printing, making patterns, building glove prototypes; co-facilitating usability studies, photography, videography, writing reports, and co-presenting our final design at the 2015 Capstone Showcase

Our Team
Erin McLean
Project Manager
Anu Moherjasbi
Matt MacAdam
Jessica Wong
External Affairs
Mark Stamnes
Background Research

We began by reviewing literature related to the research and design of space suits, pressure suits, and gloves for use in space; and literature related to learning about the tasks humans would be performing on Mars. We then sought out, scheduled time with, and interviewed subject matter experts (SMEs) in fields related to Mars, and trades which perform tasks like Astronauts. From our literature reviews and interviews, we learned that building a functional, serviceable prototype required significantly more time, expense and resources than we had available to us.

Project Scope

Gloves for off-world human user are complex feats of engineering, and there are myriad factors to consider: air pressure, temperature, agility, tear and puncture resistance, durability, tactile responsiveness, dust penetration, fit and mitigating fatigue. To keep things in perspective and to address a well-rounded set of design factors, we chose to focus on researching, designing and testing for: microgravity, tactile response, pressurization, temperature, dust penetration and fit.

Design and Test Methods

We worked out a plan to research, design and test for all of the design factors we chose to focus on.

Microgravity and tactile response would be simulated by putting the glove on a scuba diver and having them perform tasks underwater.

Presurization would be simulated by developing an internal presurizable bladder. The test glove would them be mounted inside a custom built vacuum chamber that simulated the surface air pressue on Mars.

Temperature would be regulated by a customized electronic thermal layer and circuit

We incorporated the feedback from our testing and construction experiences into our final prototype.  Improvements included specialized stitching around the knuckles to help the glove stay in place by “crawling” the fabric towards the wrist during normal movements.