What would happen if you took off your helmet in space?
I was wondering what would happen if you were to remove your space helmet in space and tried to take a quick breath. Believe it or not this question was a hot debate item recently at work.
Oh, I believe it. Even most astronomers don't know what would happen. NASA, however, does know. Occasionally during astronaut training, an astronaut's helmet accidentally comes loose in a vacuum chamber or something like that. (They always survive, by the way.)
When you're exposed to vacuum, the air in your lungs is forced out through your mouth. After that, you should be able to make breathing motions normally, but there will of course be no air to breathe. You will not experience any exploding eyeballs or embolisms like you see in the movies, although you may experience the Bends (this is when your blood boils). You'll also feel the spit on your toungue and sweat on your body boil away. It's described as a fizzy feeling, like drinking soda. Otherwise, you don't feel very much. Until you die of oxygen deprivation, that is.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.
This page has been accessed 44238 times since April 28, 2002.
Last modified: November 1, 2002 4:27:42 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)