If you are a fan of sci-fi movies and space travel movies then you might have come across scenes where characters getting Exposed to the Vacuum in space. They either get frozen to death or swells and bursts like a balloon..!!. But is it so?
There aren’t many real life situations of a human being getting exposed to vacuum. But according to NASA, there is one incident when a human subject was exposed to vacuum.
“We had a test subject accidentally exposed to a near vacuum (less than 1 psi) in an incident involving a leaking space suit in a vacuum chamber back in 1965. He remained conscious for about 14 seconds, which is about the time it takes for oxygen-deprived blood to go from the lungs to the brain. The suit probably did not reach a hard vacuum, and we began repressurizing the chamber within 15 seconds.” reports the agency.
Thankfully, the unnamed “test subject” regained consciousness quickly afterwards, and showed no sign of injury after a thorough examination. The last thing he remembers before losing consciousness is the boiling of saliva on his toungue.
NASA’s Henry Spencer has done a number of studies on chimpanzees on the topic. According to him; “You do not explode. Your blood does not boil. You do not freeze. You do not instantly lose consciousness. If you don’t try to hold your breath, Exposure to space for half a minute or so is unlikely to produce permanent injury,” he explained, adding that problems like sunburn, swelling, and “the bends” – a decompression sickness – can become a problem after 10 seconds or so.
So what really happens ?
As soon as you are exposed to vacuum in space, all the air inside you rushes out. If you try to hold breath your lungs expands and causes serious internal injury. The water inside your body gets converted to the gaseous state and as a result, you start to bloat, but you would not explode like shown in movies as our skin is strong enough to prevent that.
You will become extremely cold when you get exposed to vacuum in space. But that does not mean you will freeze to death. The reason is that if your body needs to freeze it has to transfer the heat to some other medium. In space, there is no medium. Hope you got the point.!!
The next serious concern is the exposure to harmful rays like gamma rays, UV rays etc. This can cause serious sunburns and cell mutations. Even if you managed to survive the space exposure you might die later of cancer.
So according to scientists, you can survive few seconds in the space. Exposure to space does not result in instant death, but it comes pretty close. You would be dead from asphyxiation within moments due to the whole lack of breathable air.
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