NASA's Futuristic Z-2 Spacesuit: How It Works (Infographic)

Diagrams of NASA's new Z-2 spacesuit design.
The crowd-pleasing, "Tron"-inspired design features new improvements over 2012's Z-1 suit. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

In 2014, NASA unveiled the winner in a contest, open to the public, to select the appearance of the outer covering of the Z-2 next-generation spacesuit. The winning design, nicknamed "Technology," sports electroluminescent stripes (right) for better visibility in darkness.

Full Story:NASA Unveils Futuristic Z-2 Spacesuit: Mars-Tough Duds that Glow (Photos)

The Z-2's suit port allows astronauts to slide directly from within a pressurized vehicle into a spacesuit. The inner hatch cover and portable life support system (PLSS) are removed to gain access to the suit.

Earlier NASA suits were split into separate pants and torso sections (above). The Russian Orlan suit used since 1977 has a rear hatch for entry.

In online voting, the Z-2 visual design dubbed "Technology" won over two other designs, "Biomimickry" (left) and "Trends in Society" (center).

Unlike the earlier Z-1 spacesuit (right) with its soft upper torso, the Z-2 has a hard composite upper torso for the long-term durability needed in a planetary spacesuit. The shoulder and hip designs are also improved over the Z-1.

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Karl Tate contributor

Karl's association with goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.