Wednesday, January 09, 2008

survival in space - some tips.

Space is a scary concept. Much like death, it is mysterious in the apparent emptiness of it all. A whole lot of nothing. Strange that our governments spend so much money trying to get there.

Even though I'll likely never get to visit space, cause I didn't do well in math and still haven't found a real world use for all that calculus I've forgotten from university, I feel the need to be prepared. In a fit of insomnia I searched out what would happen if you forgot to close the door on your space ship. I rarely bother to close the screen door which irritates my room mate a great deal, so this is potentially a real concern should I ever suddenly find myself staring at a forgotten and open space door.

According to this site, and several others (because although I like a good story, when it comes to emergencies, people ought not to have urban myths fill their heads even momentarily - thus you can trust my survival tips) this is what you should do.

1. DON'T PANIC - I always begin my survival tips with that advice and it is not to be taken lightly. Panic in any situation always leads to stupidity.

2. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH - This seems contrary to logic, but that last breath of air will not give you anymore time and it will certainly damage your lungs. In which case, should you survive, you will be kicking yourself for hurting your lungs when you would otherwise have recovered perfectly. Wouldn't you want to be able to blow out your birthday candles after this adventure? I suggest breathing out normally.

3. TRY TO GET BACK INSIDE - It's just that simple. The estimate is that you have 15 seconds of usable awake time. If you ignored tip number one regarding panic, you will likely have 10 seconds or less of awake time to do something in. Panic takes up a lot of energy. If you think that 15 seconds is not much time, practice the following: Close your eyes - breath out - count out 'one banana.... two banana....' until you get to 15 banana. That is actually a lot of time to look around and possibly grab onto something, or turn around. You can probably eat a banana in 15 seconds if you work at it - though that would be unbelievably cavalier in a space emergency.

4. RELAX - After 15 seconds, you will pass out. Apparently this is largely painless. You have a further 90 seconds to 2 minutes of survivable time with no long term effects during which time you will have no ability to do anything anyhow. So either you will be rescued and recover with the very best story to tell at parties, or you will be the topic of conversation for many parties to come. Both scenarios have their advantages, but remaining alive will likely insure that you will get laid again, which is almost always better than being dead.

What will not happen to you:

1. You will not explode. Your skin will actually hold everything inside, just like it does most days.
2. Your eyes and tongue will not bulge out creating an ugly lasting impression.
3. Strangely, you will not actually freeze even though space is cold. It is a vacuum and like your thermos, it will insulate you from it's own cold temperature. This makes not very much sense to me the way I have written it, but I will differ to NASA's advice.
4. Your blood will not boil. Turns out that normal blood pressure will somehow magically prevent this.

What will likely happen to you:

1. Someone will grab you and hit you repeatedly for leaving the door open. You won't do it again.
2. You will get a nasty sunburn, even after just a couple of seconds. People will laugh at you and call you lobster face later.
3. Your skin will swell up and that is supposed to be a little painful, but that pain and swelling will go down if you get back inside your space ship.
4. The moisture on your tongue will in fact boil. This happened to some dude with a leaky space suit in a testing facility here on earth. His last memory before falling asleep, was the water on his tongue boiling. What a shitty way to fall asleep.

That's really about it. The photo at the top belongs to me, not NASA. I made it myself and I'm irrationally proud of it.


french panic said...

because I am so self-involved, I unconsciously replaced each mention of the word "panic" in this posting with my Real Name. Which resulted in:
1. an almost-giggle attack
2. sadness. Mostly because of this sentence: "Panic in any situation always leads to stupidity." and this one too: "Panic takes up a lot of energy."

I take up a lot of energy and always lead to stupidity. C'est vrai, malheureusement.

Jennifer Rae Atkins said...

Thank you for posting this. This is something that I, too, have worried about. You have alleviated my anxiety a little bit, but…what if I can't get back in? I mean besides being the topic of conversation at parties. I just go unconscious? And float away?

Pamplemousse said...

Yes... and apparently you would feel the moisture on your tongue boil, and then sleep. Either you wake up, or not.

I'll have to look into the orbit question. Would you float away, or simply remain in orbit next to whatever space ship you fell out of? My guess is that the force of the door popping open in a vacuum would create quite a bit of suction.

And furthermore, does the canadarm move fast enough to scoop someone up in the allotted 90 seconds to 2 minutes? You'd think 2 minutes is enough time for some to tie themselves to the spaceship and give it a go.

Either way, should you not make it, you get a great view, if you stay calm enough to enjoy it, and it sounds as if it is far less painful than I would have expected.