These High-Tech Tools Help Judge How Well Spacesuits Fit (Video)

How well does an astronaut's spacesuit fit? Richard Fineman wants to know. 

The fourth-year doctorate candidate in the Harvard-MIT program in health sciences and technology uses wearable sensors, optical motion capture and computer modeling to measure how bodies move. 

Although his primary work is in studying elderly coordination and determining if a person is at a high or low risk of falling, Fineman has adapted some of his techniques to evaluate human-suited performance and spacesuit fit. Among the questions he seeks to answer is whether people move differently in altered-gravity environments and, if so, how. [The Evolution of the Spacesuit in Photos]

"I think about how spacesuits are these big, bulky objects, and there's obviously space between the human and the suit," he said in a video. "Each suit has to be fit to the human, but we don't really have objective ways to determine how well the suit fits."

As a member of Leia Stirling's group in MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Fineman was able to try on a spacesuit for size, as depicted in the video. 

To obtain their data, Fineman and his team trained a series of cameras to pick up certain markers and pinpoint them in a three-dimensional space. They also relied on wearable sensors housing a phalanx of accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers. 

"From them, we can get accelerations, angular velocities and approximation of orientation," he said. 

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Jasmin Malik Chua
Contributing Writer

Jasmin Malik Chua is a fashion journalist whose work has been published in the New York Times, Vox, Nylon, The Daily Beast, The Business of Fashion, Vogue Business and Refinary29, among others. She has a bachelor's degree in animal biology from the National University of Singapore and a master of science in biomedical journalism from New York University.