This is the space suit we might wear on Mars

(Image credit: Paragon Space Development Corporation)

Dutch company Mars One has announced the completion of a lengthy study into what potential colonists might wear as they stroll across the surface of the Red Planet.

The concept space suit would be pressurised, with a transparent, impact-resistant bubble as the helmet and a modular system that allows for individual parts to be easily 3D-printed and replaced on the Martian surface. It should be possible to put it on in 30 minutes without assistance, and 10 minutes with help.

It would allow colonists to operate for at least eight hours without plugging into other systems, as well as offering at least 45 minutes of emergency life support. It should take no more than four hours to recharge, and be able to cope with temperatures from -128C to 77C. Someone wearing it would be able to walk up a 20 degree incline.

It would also shield the wearer from solar radiation while dealing with the planet's red dust (though "more work is required" on this, apparently). Mass and weight would be minimised, and it would inhibit microbial growth inside the suit. A source of drinking water and high-energy food would be included in the suit, and it would also collect...ahem... "waste".

Optimal Design

The study was carried out by Paragon Space Development Corporation, which was contracted in 2013 to develop life support and spacesuit systems for a Mars One mission. Barry Finger, Paragon's chief engineer, said that their design "makes maximal use of local Mars resources to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the crew member."

Mars One's CTO Arno Wielders added: "It’s been a pleasure to work with Paragon on this study, as they really understand the challenges and criticalities of humans performing and working on the surface of Mars and how this translates into an optimal Surface Exploration Suit design."

Mars One launched in 2012 with the goal of establishing a human colony on Mars, partially funded by a reality TV show. But the project has attracted criticism from many sides, with experts calling into question its timescale, technical and financial practicality and ethics (the planned trip would be one-way). One former participant in the scheme called it "hopelessly flawed".

The schedule has slipped from its original aim of launching a robotic lander in 2016. That mission is now scheduled for 2020, with humans following in 2026.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.