EMU: A long underwear-like layer lines the interior of the protective, pressurized balloon. This catchily named Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment houses personal air conditioning: Tubes tucked against the skin circulate cool water all along the body, drawing excess heat away.
BioSuit: Elastic undergirding, Spanx-style, provides about two-thirds of the necessary counterpressure to keep someone alive in a vacuum. Active nickel-titanium coils incorporated into the second skin contract if electricity’s applied, essentially shrink-wrapping the suit the rest of the way — no gassy overwrap required. In the latest tested prototype, the metal stretches over non-stretching parts of skin, so a seam won’t pop while bending to investigate a Martian pebble.
What If It Rips?
EMU: If a traditional spacesuit gets torn, it immediately begins to decompress. The mission aborts, and the astronaut must swiftly return to the spacecraft. But he or she might die before arriving because the gait from the EMU is so awkward.
BioSuit: A rip in the elastic of this get-up? No problem.A space version of an Ace bandage will do the trick.A tight squeeze is all that’s keeping the astronaut alive,so wrapping the bandage around the hole will recompress the affected area.
[This article originally appeared in print as "A Sexier Spacesuit."]