NASA has officially unveiled the details of the new spacesuits that astronauts will use for the agency’s upcoming Artemis missions. These will be the suits that the astronauts will wear when they explore the Moon and Mars.

Dubbed as the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), NASA noted that the new spacesuit still slightly resembles the same one used today by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Despite the similar appearance, the agency noted that xEMU comes with new features to ensure that astronauts can safely and efficiently explore the lunar or Martian surface.

“Now we know that the greater danger is that the [lunar] soil is composed of tiny glass-like shards, so the new suit has a suite of dust-tolerant features to prevent inhalation or contamination of the suit’s life support system or other spacecraft,” NASA said in a statement. “The suit also is built to withstand temperature extremes of minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade and up to 250 degrees in the sun.”

In addition to the spacesuit’s protective layer, NASA also made sure that the xEMU is not cumbersome, allowing astronauts to move freely even in microgravity conditions.

“The new lower torso includes advanced materials and joint bearings that allow bending and rotating at the hips, increased bending at the knees, and hiking-style boots with flexible soles,” the agency explained.

“On the upper torso, in addition to the updated shoulder placement, other shoulder enhancements allow astronauts to move their arms more freely and easily lift objects over their heads or reach across their body in the pressurized suit,” NASA added.

To ensure that the spacesuits fit comfortably, astronauts undergo 3D scans at NASA’s Anthropometry and Biomechanics Facility. During the process, the astronauts perform various basic motions. Through this, NASA is able to match the astronaut’s body type and range of motion with the correct version of xEMU.

Aside from these, NASA also updated the communication systems inside the suit’s helmet. The new audio system includes voice-activated microphones that astronauts can use in order to communicate with their colleagues during spacewalks and other mission objectives.

xEMU The new suit that will be worn on Artemis missions is called the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit, or xEMU for short. Photo: NASA