(meteorobs) Day in the Sun for a Virginia Boy
Not quite related to meteors, but a pretty neat story........
>IMPROVED NASA SPACE SUIT TECHNOLOGY
>GIVES VIRGINIA BOY HIS FIRST DAY IN THE SUN
> Like an astronaut setting foot on a new world, a six-year-old
>Virginia Beach, VA, boy can explore Earth during daylight for the
>first time, thanks to new NASA space suit technology.
> On April 19, Mikie Walker became the first American child to
>receive a modified "space suit" that protects him from the sun's
>ultraviolet rays and other light sources. Mikie has porphryia, a
>genetic disorder that causes extreme and potentially dangerous
>sunlight sensitivity that can result in chronic skin inflammation,
>blistering, inflammation of nerves, abdominal pain and other
>disturbances. For some children with light sensitivity disorders,
>even a 40-watt light bulb can be dangerous.
> "Mikie's new favorite outdoor activities include playing in
>dirt and rolling on the lawn," his mother Angela Walker said. "He
>enjoys this so much that, at the end of the day, he resembles a
>soil-encrusted Apollo moonwalker."
> NASA's Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX) Office of
>Technology Transfer and Commercialization offered the suit to
>Mikie through an agreement with the not-for-profit HED and Related
>Disorders Foundation, Hampton, VA.
> "It's amazing to think that NASA astronauts having walked on
>the Moon means a child now can play in the sunlight," said Sarah
>Moody, founder and president of the HED Foundation, which donates
>cooling gear and other garments to children with hypohidrotic
>ectodermal dysplasia (HED), multiple sclerosis, spina bifida,
>cerebral palsy and other genetic disorders. HED is a medical
>disorder characterized by a lack of sweat glands, which can lead
>to heat exhaustion, heatstroke and even death. Thirty children
>are on the foundation's waiting list for a suit like Mikie's.
> The pint-sized space suit blocks nearly all of the sun's
>ultraviolet rays. Mikie sports an improved version of a prototype
>protective suit provided last September to four-year-old Kyle and
>two-year-old Ryan Richards of Shotton Colliery, England. The
>brothers have Polymorphic Light Reaction Syndrome, a serious
>allergy to light that causes severe skin lesions. Without the
>suits, the brothers could venture outside only at night. Last
>fall, the boys, who looked like junior astronauts, wore their
>protective suits to Disney World in Orlando, FL, and also viewed a
>Space Shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
> Thanks to the "expert" feedback provided by the Richards
>brothers, NASA developed an upgraded version of the protective
>garment. The suit's headpiece was redesigned totally to enhance
>ventilation and reduce overheating in the head area.
> "The body cooling system was changed from a battery-powered
>liquid pump unit to a passive phase change vest, made of material
>similar to refrigerator cold packs used for sports injuries. The
>vest is simple, less expensive and more durable than the original
>battery pump," saidRobert Dotts, assistant director of Technology
>Transfer and Commercialization at Johnson. The new phase change
>vest is easier to use for both children and their families and
>brought down the cost of the entire UV suit, Dotts said.
> MicroClimate Systems, Inc., of Sanford, MI, supplied the
>phase change vest, and the Solar Protective Factory of Carmichael,
>CA, provided the UV protective outer garments. The DRLI Company,
>which supplies protective coatings for astronauts' space suit
>helmets, supplied the clear UV-blocking coating for Mikie's ski-
>goggle-like face visor.
> According to HED Foundation's Moody, who presented the NASA
>suit to the Walker family, a giggly Mikie couldn't wait to don his
>"space suit" and explore the outdoor world of his home planet in
>daylight. The family headed for a local lake and, also for the
>first time, Mikie could look at the scenery out the van's windows.
>Previously, the passenger windows of any vehicle in which Mikie
>rode, had to be covered completely to prevent exposure to sunlight.
> For more information about UV protective suits for children
>with applicable disorders, contact the HED Foundation at P.O. Box
>9421, Hampton, VA, 23670, phone 757/826-0065, or check out the web