Thursday, September 16, 2010

Astronaut's Fingernails - NASA's "dirty" little secret

According to an article I just read in Boing Boing, NASA has some what of a dirty secret when it come to astronauts in fact and fingernails in particular. There is no question when we consider astronauts to be a cut above. Their job is dangerous to be sure, but it is the little inconveniences that go without saying that would put most of us off.

One astronaut activity is the dream of everyone that has ever considered going into the last big frontier. That activity is extra-vehicular activity the much vaunted E.V.A. Well if diapers and caths don't put you off, it seems there is another casualty - your finger nails. Yep, extended time in a pressure suit doing eva will make your fingernails fall off. The problem is so bad that many astronauts that know that they will be doing extended EVAs will go so far as to pull their own nails off, just to get the pain and discomfort over and done with. It also appears that suit jocks with large hands suffer the most.

From the boing boing article:
  • In several cases, sustained pressure on the fingertips during EVAs caused intense pain and led to the astronauts' nails detaching from their nailbeds, a condition called fingernail delamination.
Those of us who have been paying attention remember that a couple of years ago NASA started a competition for the next generation of Suit Gloves. Now we know why!

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