Extravehicular Activity (EVA) is a critical component to human spaceflight. From assembly to maintenance to science, there are many tasks in human spaceflight that require the fine motor control of a human outside of the spaceship or habitat. EVA is made possible through spacesuits, which act as form-fitting space habitats. One of the most critical components of the suit is the gloves.
Without well-fitting and well-designed gloves, it is nearly impossible for an astronaut to perform dexterous tasks against the resistance of the gloves and the internal pressure of the suit. In order to develop a fundamental understanding of the complex interaction between the hand and EVA glove, for the purpose of designing the next-generation glove, Patrick Chapates is using the powerful tool of Finite Element Analysis.
Using Abaqus/CAE, Patrick has developed a model of the contact interaction between a human index finger and the EVA glove complete with the internal pressure of the suit and realistic geometries and material properties. Patrick is using this model to quantify the effects of various glove design parameters such as material lay-up, glove thickness and suit pressure on the performance of the glove.
The vision of this research is that fundamental understanding of the behavior of the hand-glove interaction will lead to revolutions in EVA glove design to promote longer-duration and more frequent EVA in future human spaceflight missions.