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Prototype Mars space suit, developed by University students, unveiled in North Dakota Badlands

May 8, 2006View for printing

University of North Dakota Space Studies graduate studen Fabio Sau tests an experimental Mars space suit that he and about 40 other students from five North Dakota schools developed under a $100,000 grant from NASA.

Fabio Sau says moving from his native Italy to attend the University of North Dakota was like "coming to another planet" — and now he's using the state's wildest terrain for a simulated mission to Mars.

Sau is the guinea pig for an experimental Mars space suit that he and about 40 other students from five North Dakota schools developed under a $100,000 grant from NASA. The suit was formally unveiled Saturday in a craterlike area surrounded by buttes in the North Dakota Badlands, the highly eroded landscape that researchers say resembles Martian terrain.

It took about 20 minutes for Sau to put on the 47-pound, two-piece space suit with the help of two others. Then he walked out of a van, smiling and waving to a small crowd and giving a thumbs up. He explored prairie brush and cactus, pulling equipment in a small red wagon and collecting rocks.

"This is a very small project," Sau said. "But it was very well executed, and it's the first step toward something bigger and better."

The suit was developed in just over a year by students from the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State, Dickinson State, the state College of Science and Turtle Mountain Community College, said project manager Pablo de Leon, an aerospace engineer at UND.

Full Story: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science ... ssuit_x.htm
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