Happy Suit auto-adjusts environment to keep astronauts sane

Researchers with Florida Polytechnic University are developing a "happy suit" that will help address astronaut depression and declining mental health while in space. Mental wellbeing is an important part of future space travel plans, but depression is a big challenge to that. Many factors contribute to depression, but new technology will help address that by automatically adjusting the space traveler's environment.

Space travel takes humans from their natural environment and puts them in one that is, in many ways, unnatural. Sleep cycles can be disrupted, exercise may be limited, exposure to light may be inadequate, temperatures may feel uncomfortable. Exposure to these things over time may result in depression, a serious issue for someone on a critical mission far away from home.

Potentially addressing that is technology being developed called Smart Sensory Skin. This technology, also referred to as S3, is able detect physical and emotional issues in astronauts via wireless sensors. These sensors relay the information to systems that automatically adjust the atmosphere of their environment in whatever way is needed to combat depression.

The systems could adjust the atmosphere's lighting, temperature, oxygen levels, and the color of the lights as needed. The S3 tech will be embedded in the astronaut's clothes; doctors on Earth will have access to data from them, including things like the angle of the astronaut's joints, their blood pressure, and their heart rate.

This system will be lighter and more ergonomic than current monitoring hardware, helping avoid distractions to the astronauts, among other things. Talking about S3 is professor Dr. Arman Sargolzaei, who said, "This technology would provide [astronauts] with immediate relief to their state of mind."

SOURCE: Florida Polytechnic University