5 Horrific Ways You Would Actually Die in Space

5 Horrific Ways You Would Actually Die in Space

Flash freezing, explosive depressurization - that's how people exposed to space seem to die in Hollywood, but what would actually happen?

Read Full Article

Sorta question number 3 there.

While it's true that space is essentially a rather large thermos flask, you are unlikely to suddenly end up in hard vacuum by yourself. It's more likely that you'd be surrounded by gases, which would also end up exposed to vacuum. When they expand into the vacuum, they will draw away heat.

It's sad to say but I think one of the best film vacuum exposures is in Guardians of the Galaxy (outside of the ice crystals forming on them) Takes them a while to die and the capilliaries in their eyes are clearly bursting. And even the ice crystals can be explained because they're in a nebula, which could have ice floating in it, melting on skin contact, then refreezing...or sweat?

Hollywood decompression has always angered me.

In the real world. Only case I know of where decompression actually made person pop was a 1983 incident where 4 divers went from 9 atmospheres to 1 in .5 seconds. The unfortunate soul nearest the door actually exploded.

I don't know how many Escapist folks are Steam Powered Giraffe fans, but this is the "of all the things to go wrong while out in space" from this song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLNgD5vsZsM

newwiseman:
Hollywood decompression has always angered me.

In the real world. Only case I know of where decompression actually made person pop was a 1983 incident where 4 divers went from 9 atmospheres to 1 in .5 seconds. The unfortunate soul nearest the door actually exploded.

Well, depends. If whatever caused the person to end up in hard vacuum also caused various injuries, say they got cut up by jagged bits of metal, then you could have problems. If someone was blown through a new hole in the side of a ship, or hit by shrapnel, their insides might want to come out even without vacuum.

thaluikhain:
Sorta question number 3 there.

While it's true that space is essentially a rather large thermos flask, you are unlikely to suddenly end up in hard vacuum by yourself. It's more likely that you'd be surrounded by gases, which would also end up exposed to vacuum. When they expand into the vacuum, they will draw away heat.

Sorry.. science and physics disagree. Even if you were surrounded by gas intially, the speed at which the gas cloud would disperses would be limited only by the speed at which the molecules can move. Hint they move fricking fast and that's just in our atmosphere where they have that whole earth's gravity thing.

Shodan1980:
It's sad to say but I think one of the best film vacuum exposures is in Guardians of the Galaxy (outside of the ice crystals forming on them) Takes them a while to die and the capilliaries in their eyes are clearly bursting. And even the ice crystals can be explained because they're in a nebula, which could have ice floating in it, melting on skin contact, then refreezing...or sweat?

More likely it was the water from his own skin. We give off a fair amount of water vapor, and sweat through our skin, not to mention our breath.

But yeah what irks me is no metion of space germs. The simple fact that even if you avoid the vacuum of space you're still screwed. See microgravity has a number of odd effects ... one of them is that it weakens our immune systems... you know what else it does... it supercharges fungus, bacteria and viruses.

The growth and reproduction rate of these things is exponentially higher in micro gravity, combine that with your weakened immune system and well do the math.

Never mind that many medications also become less effective in microgrsvity... face it... there a reason we haven't found life in the universe... it's obvious it considers life to be the equivalent of acne. I mean considering that earth itself keeps seeming to try and murder us... but we're like those stubborn zits that show up just before the big date. Oh poor earth How can she show herself to Jupiter Senpai now... how can she confess with this hideous growth of life. Why can she as be as barren of life as Mars-chan.

Amgeo:
I don't know how many Escapist folks are Steam Powered Giraffe fans, but this is the "of all the things to go wrong while out in space" from this song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLNgD5vsZsM

I am an appreciator of such music. Smashing good job old squire!
Cant think of a favourite space death yet. They just arent colourful enough...

I enjoyed this article. So, let's pull out the old conspiracy theory bucket...

Magnetoshphere/radiation/Van Allen Belt/Apollo Missions.

Is the radiation in space prevalent enough to cause big problems for astronauts significantly out of Earth orbit (the Magnetosphere)? The Escapist has some smart folks. Any presentable hard facts on this? I read a few articles quite a while back about NASA putting a lot of effort into shielding for the proposed lunar return. But, I am extremely underinformed on this issue.

thaluikhain:

newwiseman:
Hollywood decompression has always angered me.

In the real world. Only case I know of where decompression actually made person pop was a 1983 incident where 4 divers went from 9 atmospheres to 1 in .5 seconds. The unfortunate soul nearest the door actually exploded.

Well, depends. If whatever caused the person to end up in hard vacuum also caused various injuries, say they got cut up by jagged bits of metal, then you could have problems. If someone was blown through a new hole in the side of a ship, or hit by shrapnel, their insides might want to come out even without vacuum.

That still wouldn't cause a person to explode, even a perfect vacuum is only 0 psi and space is still marginally above that at as high as 0.00004Pa (0.0000000058psi). In space your blood will boil before you explode, various organs may rupture with that kind of change but I doubt it.

The only instance I've been able to find was an 8 atmosphere change in .5 seconds, no space craft is ever going up with much more than a single atmosphere of pressure (101.3 kPa or 14.7 psi). 9atm is 132.26 psi. To illustrate this quantity of air pressure, 100 psi is enough to shoot a 12 pound turkey almost 4000 feet.

Clankenbeard:
I enjoyed this article. So, let's pull out the old conspiracy theory bucket...

Magnetoshphere/radiation/Van Allen Belt/Apollo Missions.

Is the radiation in space prevalent enough to cause big problems for astronauts significantly out of Earth orbit (the Magnetosphere)? The Escapist has some smart folks. Any presentable hard facts on this? I read a few articles quite a while back about NASA putting a lot of effort into shielding for the proposed lunar return. But, I am extremely underinformed on this issue.

Well, when the Apollo missions took place the sun was relatively calm, meaning few outburts and a strong magnetic field to shield from galactic cosmic radiation.

This means the main component of the radiation received by the Apollo crews would've been solar radiation (meaning Ultraviolet, a few X-Rays, high energy electrons, high energy protons, and a few alpha particles).

Now if you don't have a magnetic field you can always clad yourself in other materials.

Ultraviolet can easily be stopped, so can alpha particles, discarding the odd x-ray burst which only comes during a solar flare (which were few and far between during the Apollo missions) the hardest radiation to stop would then be Electrons (or Beta- radiation). Now if you've listened in high-school nuclear physics, you'll know that Beta- radiation can be stopped by a thin sheet of Aluminium (thinner than the already thin hull of the LEM).

So while radiation is a risk, it isn't an insurmountable wall for astronauts pondering interplanetary travels.

The Van Allen Belts themselves have also been brought up by a few Apollo-hoaxers, but they clearly haven't been looking at the placement of the VAB's, nor the orbit and orbital inclination of the Moon, nor the resulting trajectory of the TLI (Trans-Lunar Injection), for the Apollo craft (which took them around the main components of the VAB's).

Here is an image of the trajectory superimposed on a chart over the main distribution of the VAB.

image

As you can see the craft doesn't fly straight through the main lobes of the VAB's (the inner consisting of high-energy Protons, the outer mainly of Electrons).

EDIT:

If you want a link with more info, and the numbers so you can calculate the trajectory yourself then here it is.

http://www.braeunig.us/apollo/apollo11-TLI.htm

newwiseman:
Hollywood decompression has always angered me.

In the real world. Only case I know of where decompression actually made person pop was a 1983 incident where 4 divers went from 9 atmospheres to 1 in .5 seconds. The unfortunate soul nearest the door actually exploded.

Huh, was not aware of this. All four divers were instantly killed.

"Subsequent investigation by forensic pathologists determined Hellevik, being exposed to the highest pressure gradient, violently exploded due to the rapid and massive expansion of internal gases. All of his thoracic and abdominal organs, and even his thoracic spine, were ejected, as were all of his limbs. Simultaneously, his remains were expelled through the narrow trunk opening left by the jammed chamber door, less than 60 centimetres (24 in) in diameter. Fragments of his body were found scattered about the rig. One part was even found lying on the rig's derrick, 10 metres (30 ft) directly above the chambers. The deaths of all four divers were most likely instantaneous."

Sweet mother of mercy, that's the most horrific thing I've read in a while. The good news for space explorers is that going from a normal atmospheric pressure of one atmosphere to a vacuum (zero atmospheres) is not nearly that steep a gradient as going from a high-pressure environment of nine atmospheres to one atmosphere.

MrFalconfly:

Clankenbeard:
I enjoyed this article. So, let's pull out the old conspiracy theory bucket...
--SNIP--

--SMARTER SNIP--

Thank you for that. I have spent a little time chasing down that "we never went to the moon" rabbit hole. This is the first instance where I have actually seen someone state that the 1969ish time period was largely devoid of solar flare acitivity. So shielding wasn't the issue that it is today. All they needed was tinfoil hats.

The 70's were a really differnet time. It was culturally and politically acceptable to lose lives in the pursuit of sciencey goals. The world has changed--no more "Seat of your pants" rocket science.

Mmmm? No one's posted this yet? Well, I guess I will, then:


(I found it strangely topical, no matter whether you like CaH or not)

Great article. I didn't want to visit space before, and now I feel like doing it even less, but it was informative and well-written. I have a great respect for astronauts, who willingly risk all that shit happening to them.

Rhykker:
5 Horrific Ways You Would Actually Die in Space

Flash freezing, explosive depressurization - that's how people exposed to space seem to die in Hollywood, but what would actually happen?

Read Full Article

Just a gentle reminder, the titular alien doesn't die from being blasted into space - it dies of a severe case of rocket-thruster-to-the-face.

Clankenbeard:

MrFalconfly:

Clankenbeard:
I enjoyed this article. So, let's pull out the old conspiracy theory bucket...
--SNIP--

--SMARTER SNIP--

Thank you for that. I have spent a little time chasing down that "we never went to the moon" rabbit hole. This is the first instance where I have actually seen someone state that the 1969ish time period was largely devoid of solar flare acitivity. So shielding wasn't the issue that it is today. All they needed was tinfoil hats.

The 70's were a really differnet time. It was culturally and politically acceptable to lose lives in the pursuit of sciencey goals. The world has changed--no more "Seat of your pants" rocket science.

You know, I was actually wondering if I'd reached the "TL:DR" line with that big post.

I just started typing, and then looked at how big it was after I posted it.

As a ChemEng whose taken courses on thermodynamics and heat transfer, #3 and #2 made me cringe. The movement of energy is WAY more complex and a totally different process than that outlined.

Hang on a second.
Surely if you were exposed to a vacuum the water on the surface of your skin, eyes, and possibly in the capillaries would start to boil off right?
Well, doesn't a liquid changing into a gas absorb temperature in that state transformation to grant it latent heat?
Wouldn't this cause a rapid loss of body temperature?
The same way refrigerators work?

xorinite:
Hang on a second.
Surely if you were exposed to a vacuum the water on the surface of your skin, eyes, and possibly in the capillaries would start to boil off right?
Well, doesn't a liquid changing into a gas absorb temperature in that state transformation to grant it latent heat?
Wouldn't this cause a rapid loss of body temperature?
The same way refrigerators work?

Yes, and it would result in frost forming on these regions (eyes, mouth - areas with lots of moisture/wetness), but little more, and it wouldn't kill you. They call this "evaporative cooling."

Rhykker:

Yes, and it would result in frost forming on these regions (eyes, mouth - areas with lots of moisture/wetness), but little more, and it wouldn't kill you. They call this "evaporative cooling."

Well I wasn't concerned with it killing you, just that it is reasonable for ice to form on the face (especially if sweaty) like seen in that one movie.
Of course this would crack the skin and probably cause bleeding and then similar effects on deeper tissues. I suspect you'd be dead before you'd have to appreciate this thankfully.
Would the water in your body expand in pockets into gas?

Actually, I just looked it up. There have been animal studies (cruel I know) on the effects of vacuum on the body. Water does form into gas, you'd expand to almost twice your size unless restrained, soft tissues are damaged, you go blind, brain damage occurs and you die in about 11 seconds due to sudden loss of blood pressure resulting in the heart stopping.

I imagine it feels longer, also don't hold your breath or you lungs will burst so star trek TNG got that wrong.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here