In many films and TV series, we have repeatedly encountered plot twists and turns, in which a person was either thrown into open space from an airlock, or his spacesuit was damaged, or the cockpit of a fighter in which he was performing a combat mission was depressurized, but he miraculously survives, or his comrades save him. For many, such moments cause a skeptical grin and completely discourage the desire to continue watching the film, since they consider all this to be complete nonsense and delirium of a madman.
In our article we will figure out whether it is possible for a person to survive in the vacuum of space without a spacesuit and what will happen to an unprotected human body if he suddenly finds himself in a cold space void.
The main myths we intend to debunk or confirm
It often happens that you watch in a company a series like "Expancies" or the same "Hundreds", where a person has to temporarily find himself in an airless space without a spacesuit, and you hear moralizing comments from friends:
We will subject these and other statements to research, while explaining the train of our thoughts in the simplest, understandable to everyone, words. And let's start with the "absolute cold".
Will a person freeze in space without a spacesuit in a matter of seconds?
In order to answer this question, let's figure out what the temperature is, as such. Temperature is a term that defines the level of "hotness" or "coolness" of something. To measure the temperature of a physical body, you need to attach a thermometer sensor to it. It's the same with water. Even the temperature of the air can be measured because it is made of material particles. And although molecules of the same oxygen, nitrogen, water or carbon dioxide are less "compressed" in the air than molecules in a solid material body, they also contact the same bulb of the thermometer, which makes it possible to measure the temperature.
Now let's look at the cosmic vacuum. The presence of molecules and atoms of material substances in it outside of dusty nebulae and clusters (as in the case of our solar system) rarely exceeds 1 elementary particle per cubic centimeter. Therefore, even if these particles are extremely cold, some 1000-2000 foreign atoms will not be able to cool your body in a matter of seconds, or even minutes.
The hero of DiCaprio in "Titanic" "cooled down" very quickly, because there was cold water around him, to which his body gave its thermal energy at a tremendous speed. There is nothing to cool a person in the vacuum of space.
A body placed in a cosmic vacuum will be cooled not due to the fact that it comes into contact with the "cold emptiness", but due to the fact that without energy supply (heat emitted by the planet's surface, atmospheric air, solar rays), the molecules and atoms of our bodies will move more and more slowly until they stop completely. This will mean complete freezing.
It turns out that such a massive object as a human body, even being in the shadow of a planet or satellite, will cool down very soon, and therefore, if a person dies in space without a spacesuit, then this will happen in the first place. definitely not from the cold.
Will a person overheat on the Sun in a vacuum?
Continuing the topic above, we will confirm that a material body, thrown into the cosmic vacuum at a close distance from the star, really has every chance, on the contrary, to fry rather than freeze.
But everything will depend on the distance of the object from the star. For example, our cosmonauts going out into outer space from the ISS are at greater risk of overheating than hypothermia.
In any case, if the body constantly rotates, turning to the luminary with one side or the other, hypothermia, as well as overheating, may not be obtained. Everything will depend on the parameters of rotation and the distance from the star. After all, it is clear that a body located at a greater distance from the Sun will heat up less than that which is in its immediate vicinity.
Therefore, it turns out that if an incident takes place at a great distance from the star or even outside the solar system, overheating is not what a person will die from in the first place.
On the question of "boiling blood"
From physics lessons, we know that the lower the pressure, the lower the boiling point. And when there is no pressure, water can boil at 10 degrees and below. This is precisely the reason for the prejudice of some “experts” that a person’s blood in his veins will boil if his body is in a vacuum without a spacesuit.
Maybe it would be so, if inside the human circulatory system the blood was not constantly under its own pressure. We know that human blood pressure in a normal setting is in the 120/70 range. This or that indicator can be somewhat maneuvered, but on average, even between peaks, that is, heartbeats, the pressure in the circulatory system is maintained at 100 mbar. To make it clearer, let's translate millibars to millimeters of mercury and get 75 mm. rt. Art., that is, the pressure, whatever one may say, is far from zero, at which water boils only at 50 degrees. The body temperature, as you know, is 36.6. The conclusions are clear.
It is also worth paying attention to the fact that in moments of stressful situations, when the adrenal glands are injecting adrenaline into the blood, blood pressure jumps even more. Therefore, death from boiling blood, as such, certainly does not threaten a person.
About boiling saliva
Indeed, saliva will boil on the tongue, and how. After all, the pressure in the mouth is not maintained at the same level as in the circulatory system. The same will happen with the mucous membrane of the eyes. But! What is "boiling", as such?
Boiling is the process of transition of a liquid to another state of aggregation, that is, in simple words, rapid evaporation. And it is not the process itself that injures a person during boiling, but the temperature at which this process starts. Yes, it will hurt to burn yourself with boiling water on Earth, because here boiling water under a pressure of 1 atmosphere (760 mm Hg) will have a temperature of 100 degrees.
But in a vacuum, the boiling process will occur at low temperatures, from which the body will not be harmed. It will just dry in the mouth, there will be a feeling of sand in the eyes. But all this, over time, will be restored. If you are saved, of course.
About bursting eyes, blood vessels, intestines and other internal organs
Since all liquids and air in our body are constantly under the influence of internal and external (1 atmosphere) pressure, with which the internal is balanced, it would be wrong to say that when external pressure disappears, our tissues will not begin to swell. p>
Of course they will. But not in the lethal version that our ignorant friends describe to us. The fact is that the walls of our internal organs, blood vessels, cells, as, in principle, the skin itself, are elastic and strong, and they will be able to withstand internal pressure in the absence of external pressure. Yes, the heart will continue to function in the same mode, and, under stress, even doubled, and therefore our vessels, like our tissues, will more and more inflate from internal pressure.
But a drop of only 1 atmosphere is not the case that can break them. If the swollen body of a person has time to be fished out of the airless space until he dies from suffocation, this "intra-pressure tumor" will quickly subside and everything will return to normal. In any case, if a person dies in a cosmic vacuum, it certainly will not be due to the fact that he was "torn into a rag" by internal pressure.
It will be much worse, having adapted to a pressure of 1000 atmospheres, like a giant shark in the movie "Meg: Monster of the Depth," to rise sharply to a pressure of 1 atmosphere. Here, the shark's body would have ripped apart in the initial stages of ascent from depth. It is because of this that this film is sheer nonsense and nonsense.
The same nonsense can be considered a scene in the movie "Alien-4", when in front of the heroines Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder through a small hole into space, a giant monster was sucked into space, which was given birth to the evolved alien womb. In fact, this hole could be closed with a palm, and there would be nothing bad for the body from this. At least until the ship is enveloped in flames upon entering the atmosphere ...
The only organ that can suffer with a sudden disappearance of external pressure is the lungs. The blood capillaries in them are so small that they can not bear the sharp pressure drop.
But this is only if at the moment a person will have full lungs of air (that is, before that he will take a breath, trying to hold his breath). If he exhaled before this and his mouth is open at the time of the incident, there will be no dire consequences. Except asphyxiation, of course. But that's already a question from the next section.
The main cause of quick death is hypoxia
But death from lack of oxygen is a serious thing. It is clear that a spacesuit, even the most useless one, has its own life support system, which is designed to keep the external pressure around the body at an acceptable level, maintain the temperature and, of course, provide the human respiratory system with breathing mixture.
You can survive in a vacuum without a spacesuit if you learn to exist without oxygen for a long time. But, alas, the body, and, most importantly, the human brain, are not adapted to this. And therefore, among the first from oxygen starvation, we will turn off the parts of the brain that are responsible for thinking, through which we make decisions and perform conscious operations aimed at saving ourselves.
Then the "vegetative" areas, which are responsible for the work of the heart and organs, will also start to turn off. After that, without oxygen, the cells of the body will begin to die. And if these are brain cells, then it will not be possible to restore its work, even by starting the heart. That is, the “rescuers” have about 2 minutes for everything. More is already death.
Radiation is another cause of death
We will not go into the details of what cosmic and solar radiation is, let's just say that both of them bring inevitable death. If a person is lucky (Ha! That's so happy!) To be without a spacesuit in a cosmic vacuum at a short distance from a planet that has, like our Earth, magnetic poles, the planet itself will protect him from cosmic and other radiation.
If the tragedy happens far enough from the planet, but not so far from the luminary, everything will depend on what type of luminary it is - once, and on the activity of this luminary at the moment - two. If you are "let out for a walk" at a distance of 1 amu. That is (1 astronomical unit is equal to the distance from the Earth to the Sun, that is, about 150 million km.) From the blue giant, you will grab a lethal dose instantly and there will be no one to reanimate the rescuers in a second.
If everything happens at a distance of 1 amu. That is, from such a yellow dwarf as our Sun, everything will depend on its calmness at this moment. You will get into the moment of a solar flare, you will die from a dose of radiation, even if you are first pumped out. If at this moment the luminary will behave calmly, get off with a slight fright.
If you are thrown outside the limits of any solar system in a place of absolute emptiness, everything will depend on whether you run into cosmic rays emanating from any ever exploding supernova or other cosmic "anomaly". Such proton emissions, depending on the intensity and distance from the object that emitted them, can not only irradiate you with X-rays and other radiation, but also simply spray your body into molecules and atoms.
But getting into such an intense beam would be fatal even for a ship. Therefore, you can be at peace. The jokers who decide to make this kind of experience on you will stay away from such places.
To summarize: What a person will feel when trapped in a vacuum
Let's describe it from an experience similar to what happened to the astronaut Bowman in Stanley Kubrick's film "A Space Odyssey 2001". Let's say the module you are currently in is cut off from the rest of the ship by an explosion. You see through the porthole the door of the nearest module, behind the doors of which rescue awaits you. It is located at a distance of 10 meters from yours, but in order to overcome them, you will have to swim in the vacuum of space without a spacesuit, since there is simply no spacesuit in this compartment.
Suppose that, like most untrained people, you will be able to remain conscious without oxygen for 8-12 seconds at the peak of adrenaline rush and heart palpitations at the moment of deepest stress, that is, at the peak of adrenaline rush and rapid heart rate. And this interval will be the shorter, the more active you behave.
First, you'll have to prepare yourself and take a few quick breaths. Then exhale completely and keep your mouth ajar so as not to damage the lungs (the countdown has started). Then open the gateway (1 second has passed). In this case, you need to hold on to something, otherwise an uncontrolled release of air will launch you in an unpredictable direction. Your mouth immediately dries up, your ears are blocked in the strongest way, you desperately want to blink. But it's better to be patient with this. When everything calms down and the pressure equals the external one (the 2nd second has passed), you need to prudently push off and launch your body towards the saving module (the 3rd and 4th seconds have passed).
The higher the speed, the better. Note that the speed of an ordinary pedestrian is 5 km / h, that is, about 1 m 40 cm per second. If you fly at such a speed, it will take more than 6 seconds to overcome 10 meters and you risk to arrive at your destination unconscious, and you will not be able to escape, since you cannot even open the module's airlock hatch.
Wally in the cartoon of the same name used a fire extinguisher instead of a jet engine. But here, without skill, you can run yourself in a different direction.
Let's say you managed to give your body a speed of 10 km / h and, having flown a section of the path, will land exactly on the airlock door (5th, 6th and 7th seconds). Your eyes are already darkening, your heart is beating faster, but you pay no attention to anything else, except as you hit the airlock door key or pull some lever (depending on the design). Then, with the last effort, you throw yourself into the departed doors of the airlock, hit the key for closing the doors and restoring the atmosphere (another 2 seconds, plus a second to pump the breathing mixture into the airlock, everything took 10 seconds). In this case, even if you lose consciousness, you will wake up already in full good health, saved.
You will not find any frostbite on yourself, nor will you remember whether you were cold or not during your flight. Most likely, it will seem to you that you were "dry". That is, it is neither cold nor hot. You will not find any other "uncomfortable" feelings.
If you find yourself "overboard" as a result of an explosion and managed to catch you out of the vacuum within 2 minutes and quickly revive, your body will be able to recover without any consequences.
If radiation was hapanulized, it will be shown by the geiger counter and medical examination. If you get a sunburn, it will show a tan on your face. The rest of the body from ultraviolet radiation at the very least will save clothes. That's basically it.
But, most likely, the attempt described by us is unlikely to be crowned with success. In order at such a moment to continue to think harmoniously, to do everything prudently, without breaking into panic and rumbling in the heart, you need to have nerves of steel, which is achieved by years of special training. Maybe Bowman was. Most of the modern astronauts are also like that. But a simple person ... In such a situation he will do everything, but not what is needed.
Therefore, it is better to sit at home, go to work on Mother Earth, at normal pressure and inhaling the wonderful air of our native polluted atmosphere, and let those who really prepared for this fly into space ...
The Topic of Article: Survive in a vacuum without a spacesuit: reality or the delusion of a madman.