What to wear on Mars? Designer experiments on space-durable textiles
According to Anurita, the key aspects to keep in mind when designing apparel for the neighbour planet are sustainability, gravity and reusability.
LUCKNOW: Amid all the speculations of billionaire Elon Musk leading humanity to the next phase of space exploration, and possibly even to Mars, has the thought of what an astronaut wears--apart from the hi-tech suit--as part of their regular clothing during the space pursuits, ever caught your fancy?
Lucknow-based Anurita Chandola, a textile and fashion designer, is in the process of developing fabrics that can be used on Mars. According to her, the key aspects to keep in mind when designing apparel for the neighbour planet are sustainability, gravity and reusability.
“Since a one-way journey to the planet takes about seven months, it is important to ensure that the products used in the clothes are reusable and lightweight,” she says.
A spacesuit designed by Chandola doubles up as a sleeping bag, and even flaunts Indian prints that showcase her heritage. It provides cushioning on the inside since the journey will be unsteady and jerky, and is made of ‘breathable’ fabrics. However, she points out that the suit cannot be worn outside the vessel.
After nine years in the fashion industry, Chandola decided it was time to move to research on space durable textiles, and was accepted into the Royal College of Art, London where she studied the subject. “I was always curious about how our lovely clothes will react in zero gravity,” she adds.
She has also designed a dress that can maintain its shape on Mars despite gravity there being Earth’s one-third; it can also change its shape to look like a different garment, in the interest of its reusability.
Chandola became a part of the ‘Building a Martian House’ project in Bristol, UK to research and create products that are sustainable on Mars. The team has, so far, experimented with natural dyes using vegetable peels as opposed to formaldehyde, which won’t be conducive to any plants growing in that environment. It has used mustard seed pillows that allow for better air circulation, Chandola says.
Moreover, the team also discovered that ropes of charpai (beds made bamboo frame and woven rope) will be more useful on Mars than a regular air mattress.
According to Chandola, ‘space-wear’ will become popular and in demand whenever space travel picks up. “If people are spending millions for the journey, I am certain that will want to dress themselves to the occasion.”
Chandola also owns her clothing line, ‘Eesh’, through which she sources products made by artisans from Uttaranchal, for export to the UK.