• Question: Why can't we breathe in space?

    Asked by Jimmy to Chloe, Irene, Pierre, Ricardo, Uday on 17 Nov 2015.
    • Photo: Uday Bangavadi

      Uday Bangavadi answered on 17 Nov 2015:


      In space, it is almost a pure vacuum or Zero PSI…so there is nothing to inhale…in fact, the air inside of your lungs will try to rush out and equalize with the pressure of outer space = Zero. The temperature in outer space is roughly 3 degrees K. So in outer space you would freeze pretty fast while trying to breathe. sort of like a flash freeze. Attempts at breathing would make your body explode outward from every available orifice…eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc., etc., due to the necessity of pressure equalization.

    • Photo: Chloe Huseyin

      Chloe Huseyin answered on 17 Nov 2015:


      The air that we breathe on Earth is made up of about 21% oxygen gas and 78% nitrogen gas with small amounts of other gases like carbon dioxide. In space there are no forces to keep the gas molecules together so the gases would float away and so there wouldn’t be any air there for you to breathe..

      This is the same principle for why people that climb mountains take supplemental oxygen supplies with them. As there is less pressure at high altitudes the molecules spread out and make the air thin and so it’s difficult to breathe.

    • Photo: Irene Regan

      Irene Regan answered on 17 Nov 2015:


      Great Q:)
      Among the conditions that are missing up in space is breathable air.
      Without oxygen to breathe, an astronaut wouldn’t really be able to “breathe” for any significant amount of time in space and would lose consciousness after only about 15 seconds (or possibly even less).
      Because the environment in space is not suitable to humans, after losing consciousness a person without a spacesuit would not be able to survive more than a few minutes – the pressure conditions would cause fluids in the body to become too hot (boil).

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