In the below video, Neil deGrasse Tyson outlines exactly how long it would take you to meet your (terribly unfortunate) demise on the other planets in our solar system if you had no space suit. You might think that your death would be absolutely instantaneous, but this isn’t really the case. There are some places that you could survive, well, for a brief time anyway. If you are lucky, you could get yourself a few minutes.
There are some places that you could survive, well, for a brief time anyway. If you are lucky, you could get yourself a few minutes.
But what about in the vacuum of space? Would you have more luck than on a planet?
Spending a day in the cosmic vacuum sans spacesuit might seem like a questionable life choice. After all, in the movies, whenever people end up in the intergalactic void without proper protection either their heads explode or they instantaneously freeze solid—if you are the one experiencing this unfortunate turn of events, neither outcome is particularly appealing.
However, in reality, your death in space won’t be nearly as spectacular as Hollywood would have you believe. In fact, as long as you don’t try and hold your breath during decompression, you’ll survive about 30 seconds before you sustain any permanent injuries. Granted, these 30 seconds won’t be the most pleasurable moments of your life, but you won’t immediately die (small victories, people…small victories).
Fortunately, heat doesn’t transfer very quickly in space as there is no air, water, or other medium to aid the transfer. So neither freezing to death nor spontaneously combusting is an immediate risk. Once you enter the vacuum of space, it will take about 15 seconds for your O2 deprived blood to get to your brain. When this happens, you’ll pass out. Ultimately, the most immediate threat in the cosmic vacuum is oxygen deprivation.
You won’t be killed by the decompressed environment, unearthly temperatures, or solar radiation. You’ll asphyxiate after a couple of minutes…and then your bloated body will drift aimlessly through space for the rest of the day.