The Challenge | Make Sense Out of Mars

Develop a sensor to be used by humans on Mars.


A full body suit lined with sensors to detect motion, using this data we can improve work efficiency, maintain fitness and analyse form during lifting. We can also learn about the changes in human physiology in the Martian environment over a longer period.

By assessing human movement, we will be able to gain vital information on how differently humans interact with the Martian environment and the effect this will have on them. Using this information we can

  • Analyse human movement
  • Assess health
  • Assess ergonomics of habitat and equipment

Current Problems:

1. No data on effects of Mars’ low gravity on humans

o Reduction in bone density

o Muscle degradation

o Changes in physiology (bad posture, inability to lift heavier weights, muscular tension, changes in walks etc)

2. Change in physiology before, en route and after arriving on Mars

3. Inexperience of optimisation of Martian living space

4. Unknown development of physical health problems

Our solution

Designing a second skin layer which can be worn as an undersuit. This suit would be lined with multiple motion sensors which will detect human movement, from this we can learn about the changes in human physiology in the martian environment over a period of time, but also help us analyse day to day tasks. Using this data we can do things such as refining daily actions to improve work efficiency, detect small injuries before they become worse, maintain fitness.

Alternative Options

1. Consistent exercise routine /subject loading devices

  • Different gravity
  • Different workload for Martians compared to ISS astronauts
  • Martians may need not need as many hours of exercise so they can have time for other things.
  • Constant tracking might save time by allowing the astronauts to work out less than in ISS

2. Theoretical option – Centrifuge for the journey

  • Cost too much
  • Still only a theory
  • Not viable
  • Several problems including coriolis effect, and incredible costs

3. Tensioned suit/GLCS Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit

  • Could be a valid option, although movement tracking could be used to approve or disprove it
  • Could cause issues with blood circulation
  • Potential for overheating.

4. Stretching/Massaging

  • Time consuming
  • Needs specialist attention
  • Only a short term solution

5. Using external cameras and reflective suits

  • Using external cameras is not an option for tracking human movement outside the habitat
  • High quality cameras would be needed throughout the habitat.
  • Constant energy and processing use to determine location
  • Extra external clothing requirements as opposed to an undergarment

How it works

Visual Description - A skin tight suit containing 16 sensors at key joints along the body, a control unit and a power supply. Sensors are positioned, 1 for each lower limb, 1 for each upper limb, and 4 along the length of the spine, see positioning of the ‘x’ marks on the stick men.

The Sensor - Each sensor will be comprised of an accelerometer and gyro, this mean that for each point on the body, orientation and directional movement can be determined (angle to reference, velocity, acceleration). Example sensor dimension (4.1mm x 4.1mm x 0.95mm, MPU-6050). [hobbiest level equpment]

Communication - Sensors will be coordinated by a central controller (by wired connections) that will manage sensor output, data storage and wireless communication to a computer system.

Power - The sensors and controllers will all run from a central power supply, this means that the weight of the system can be kept closer to the users body and means that sensor units will be less intrusive. The GT1M is lightweight (27 g), compact (38mm × 37 mm × 18 mm) [Military level equipment]

“Recognition of Military-Specific Physical Activities With Body-Fixed Sensors, Thomas Wyss , MSc ; Urs Mäder , PhD”


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