Martian Aerogel Jacket
Built with the same advanced aerogel and parachutes that land Rovers on Mars.
- Ultra thin, lightweight and flexible aerogel insulation
- Outer shell and lining made from space parachutes
- Lab tested to -20°C
Protecting the aerogel is an outer shell built with the only fabric that’s currently on Earth, Mars and Titan – an extreme strength parachute used to land the first probe on Titan and the last Rover on Mars. The jacket’s soft metallic look, black contrast seam taping and zigzag stitching are based on the aluminised nylon and angled zippers of the early Project Mercury spacesuits. And the outer shell is designed with a transparent finish to create a window into the laser-drilled aerogel technology underneath.
Built with the same lab helping land Rovers on Mars
The story of this new aerogel started back in 2019 when one of our customers got in touch. It turned out that he worked with one of the most cutting-edge materials labs on Earth, and they were pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with aerogel. Based in California, AlphaTek Materials develops advanced materials for the aerospace industry. Right now they’re working with NASA on an ultra-high performance aerogel layer designed to protect the next Mars Rover as it bursts through Mars’ atmosphere at 2000°C.
Tested down to -20°C
We tested the jacket the same way we test our largest puffer jackets, by taking it into the lab and exposing it to the extreme cold. A lucky volunteer gets to put on the jacket and take a seat in our controlled climate chamber before we turn the temperature dial right down. We’re generous and let them wear things like gloves too. Even with the test subject sitting completely still at -20°C, the jacket kept their core temperature stable for 20 minutes. It’s incredible performance from a jacket so thin.
A short guide to aerogel’s past and future
Aerogel was invented at Stanford University in the 1930s. Sixty years later it was adopted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at NASA, and it’s been travelling to and from space ever since. When the Pathfinder Sojourner Rover landed on Mars in 1997, it was aerogel that was used to insulate the electronics box because of its thermal properties. And on the Stardust spacecraft, it was aerogel they used to collect samples of interstellar dust from a comet that was moving six times faster than a bullet. So it has a decent CV.
It’s the lightest solid material in the world
To make our aerogel, Alphatek takes silica gel and puts it through an energy efficient process called ambient drying, which slowly extracts the liquid part of the gel without collapsing its structure. What you’re left with is a porous, sponge-like material that’s made up of 99% empty space. It’s why aerogel is only 3x more dense than air and the lightest solid material in the world.
Aerogel may even hold the key to colonising Mars
The future applications for aerogel are potentially limitless. A 2019 paper in Nature Astronomy by researchers at Harvard proposed that greenhouses constructed with aerogel could generate enough heat to melt water ice on the surface of Mars, which would allow settlers to produce food in situ. Aerogel would simultaneously protect crops from the solar radiation that filters through the thin Martian atmosphere.
It may also help to solve the biggest challenges on Earth
Back on Earth, harnessing aerogel could help to shape the future. Studies show that incorporating it into construction materials like paints and plasters, creates a viable solution to reducing the fossil fuels we currently rely on to heat buildings. A new photocatalyst made from modified aerogel may be able to convert sunlight into hydrogen energy on an industrial scale. And emerging intelligent aerogels promise to convert air into drinking water, or detect harmful viruses.
Protecting the aerogel inside this jacket is an outer shell built with the only fabric currently on Earth, Mars and Titan – an extreme strength parachute used to land the first probe on Titan and the last Rover on Mars.
It spent 15 years in R&D
With missions costing billions of dollars you don’t want the parachute to be the thing that fails. So an incredible amount of R&D goes into them. In this case, the high-tenacity, heat-proof nylon took 15 years to develop. Spun at high speed before being washed, coloured and processed with a special finish to ensure rapid deployment, they are the lightest, strongest and most heat resistant parachute fabrics ever produced. They are baked at 275°F to kill any microorganisms that might contaminate other worlds, before travelling through space at temperatures well below freezing.
It’s the only fabric on Earth, Titan, and Mars
16 years earlier the same technology was used to land the Cassini-Huygens probe on Titan during Saturn’s first ever space-research mission. On Christmas Day 2004, after a 7 year journey, the parachute deployed about 180km above Titan’s surface. On 14 January 2005 Cassini began successfully broadcasting images of Titan’s surface from Huygens back to Earth. It became the first probe to land in the outer Solar System – the furthest any spacecraft has ever landed.
Designed to look like it’s arrived from space
With the entire jacket built from materials that include ‘travelling through space’ as their day job, we wanted to make sure it looked ready for interplanetary action. As the Space Race started heating up in the late 1950s NASA built its first spacesuits for Project Mercury – the first space flight program aiming to send a human into orbit. And today the jacket’s subtle metallic shine, black contrast seam taping and zigzag stitching are based on the aluminised nylon and angled zippers of these early spacesuits. The material also comes with a transparent finish to create a window into the laser-drilled aerogel technology underneath.
Five zipped pockets
On the side of the jacket you’ll find two large pockets with storm flaps that close with metal snaps. There are two more pockets with zippers on either side of the chest that fit phones, wallet and keys. And there’s a fifth zipped pocket inside the jacket on the left hand side.
Size + Fit
The Aerogel Jacket is designed with a regular fit.
|Fits chest||83 - 90||91 - 98||99 - 106||107 - 114||115 - 122||123 - 130|
|Fits waist||71 - 76||76 - 81||81 - 86||86 - 91||91 - 96||96 - 101|
|Fits chest||33 - 36||36 - 39||39 - 42||42 - 45||45 - 48||48 - 51|
|Fits waist||28 - 30||30 - 32||32 - 34||34 - 36||36 - 38||38 - 40|