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Video and photos of spacewalks
February 10, 2008 10:31 AM   Subscribe

The environment does terrible things to the human body and it smells. Many people go for that walk anyway.

Found these while looking for video of the spacewalks from Gemini 10, 11 or 12 or any of the Apollo spacewalks (not the moonwalks), but nothing much exists, not even photos.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (32 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The first link is misleading; I thought it would have had to do with the hazards of just being in space (how certain wavelengths pass through the craft and fuck with our DNA. Still an interesting article, though, and something to think about next time I forget my suit before opening the airlock.

And space has a smell? That's news to me! Thanks, BB.
posted by not_on_display at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eeep... meant to say "...just being in space, fully protected by a suit or aspacesehip," And to close the parentheses somehow.
posted by not_on_display at 10:44 AM on February 10, 2008


I suspect the so-called "smell of space" is in fact the smell of manufactured items that have just been exposed to hard vacuum and possibly direct sunlight unfiltered by an atmosphere.

When you place objects in a vacuum, absorbed atmospheric gases begin leaching out of it. When you expose paint and metal and plastics to the full force of the sun or the shade in empty space, I think it's fair to assume that temperature changes are involved which would leave them emitting some sort of smell for a while.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:01 AM on February 10, 2008


Wow. So Dave really could have reentered the Discovery. Awesome.

Also, throwing people out the airlock is a terrible way to die.
posted by thecaddy at 11:21 AM on February 10, 2008


CAUTION: Objects in a vacuum smell worse than they appear...
posted by ZachsMind at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some crazy 20-something, someday, will be tooling along in some rented spacecraft, and decide, "hey, I bet I can pop the hatch and poke out and stare at the sun completely unprotected with absolutely no filter, right out in the vacuum, just me and the TERRIBLE SECRET OF SPACE."

It sort of sounds like he would survive.

Which is both incredible and really shows how dated all of our goofy space dramas will look in a hundred years. (if we don't kill ourselves before then, etc etc.)
posted by blacklite at 12:21 PM on February 10, 2008


"When a person exposes themselves to zero-pressure atmosphere, there's not a whole lot left to inspect."
posted by Dave Faris at 12:27 PM on February 10, 2008


Thanks, ^Dave. That link, which I won't watch, is probably the one that gave me nightmares just seeing a snippet of it on cable TV when I was a kid. (It's probably much funnier now, but still... {{shuddder}}
posted by not_on_display at 12:38 PM on February 10, 2008


ie. "the Big Hickey"
posted by panamax at 12:39 PM on February 10, 2008


Oh, it's just the trailer to the 1981 movie, Outland. I mean, it was bad, but I don't think it would give anyone but Sean Connery nightmares.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2008


Watch that trailer? I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.
posted by grouse at 12:55 PM on February 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


uhm...

0.o

Whatever happened to that bit where the pressure inside someone's body would be greater than the pressure outside his body if he were somewhere with no pressure, like a vacuum? So that rather than just a little bloating and turning blue, the human body would effectively explode as the mass tried to fill the vacuum of space..? The links made it sound like that'd only happen if you inhale first, and it wouldn't be immediate. Nature abhors a vacuum, so if there's no pressure on your body, like it is here on Earth, the pressure inside your body's gonna wanna fill up what little of the vacuum it can, at the expense of your continued existence.

Two whole minutes? This writer honestly thinks a human being can survive in outer space for two whole minutes? I think we should test the writer's theories by shooting him up in space and seeing if he survives two whole minutes.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:01 PM on February 10, 2008


The first link is misleading; I thought it would have had to do with the hazards of just being in space (how certain wavelengths pass through the craft and fuck with our DNA.

Hey, YOU can worry about whether your kids will have birth defects once your suit punctures if you want. Me, I'll just scream to get rid of all that extra oxygen in the hopes of surviving those critical 10-15 seconds.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on February 10, 2008


I saw Darph Bobo explode into confetti when he was ejected into space, so this article is clearly full of shit.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:22 PM on February 10, 2008


A good chance to turn up the smell and watch Space Wolf again.
posted by isopraxis at 1:32 PM on February 10, 2008


(oops, I only meant to go to the thread and not point to. . . uhm. It was just my way of finding it quick like.)
posted by isopraxis at 1:34 PM on February 10, 2008


The smell bit is very interesting. It's just the sort of thing we'll all know when Web 4.0 comes, complete with the cross-browser scent output libraries.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 1:44 PM on February 10, 2008


Well, ZachsMind, the human body isn't a plastic bag, it's somewhat porous. Also, the big bag of air in the middle opens right onto the outside, so no worry there. And while we do stay somewhat pressurized inside, the body has a fair bit of structural integrity to it. Your argument seems to indicate that any pressurized container in space should automatically explode, but that turns out not to be the case. Also, the author has scientific support for his view, consisting of lots of testing by government agencies. Your view seems to rest on an imperfect understanding of physics, plus sci-fi movies (which, of course, go hand in hand.)
posted by agentofselection at 1:48 PM on February 10, 2008


Oh, it's just the trailer to the 1981 movie, Outland. I mean, it was bad, but I don't think it would give anyone but Sean Connery nightmares.

That's nothing next to the Schwarzenegger protruding-eyeballs decompression from Total Recall.

Sean Connery and decompression seem to go together alot. Remember when James Bond threw a bad guy in a bariatric chamber and then chopped into it with a fire axe so that the dude exploded?
posted by XMLicious at 2:04 PM on February 10, 2008


Wow. So Dave really could have reentered the Discovery. Awesome.
Also, throwing people out the airlock is a terrible way to die.


Aw jeez here we go again...
posted by hal9k at 2:23 PM on February 10, 2008


Funny. I remember a short story by Arthur C. Clarke concerning the effect of vacuum on the human body titled Take a Deep Breath (the founding of the vacuum-breathers club?).

Geoffrey Landis wrote a rather nice essay on the subject of Human Exposure to Vacuum which references NASA studies and validates a lot of Clarke's assertions.
posted by Kikkoman at 2:52 PM on February 10, 2008


Well AgentOfSelection, right or wrong, this is definitely something I'd like to see... Darn shame ASavage doesn't lurk in these parts anymore. MythBusters could make an analogous dummy with pig flesh and ballistics gel and depressurize it in microgravity to see what would happen. My money's still on the boom.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:58 PM on February 10, 2008


the human body would effectively explode

No: You do not explode and your blood does not boil because of the containing effect of your skin and circulatory system.

But hey, what would the folks at the Goddard Space Flight Center's High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center know?
posted by mediareport at 3:18 PM on February 10, 2008


Oh, and there's a pretty neat scene involving direct exposure to outer space in the underrated movie Sunshine.
posted by mediareport at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2008


ZachsMind: but the article talked about people being exposed to vacuum by accident, and the effects. The people who underwent short-term vacuum were fine, and the cosmonauts who rode down from space with no pressure died, but not messily--they appeared to be asleep when the capsule was opened. These experiments have been done with people and with live animals, and no one exploded--why try it with less funding with dead animals and gelatin?
posted by agentofselection at 3:25 PM on February 10, 2008


There's a good article about that scene from Sunshine (and surviving in space) over at Slate.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on February 10, 2008


Space smells? I thought it was vacuumed packed for freshness.
posted by Tube at 4:57 PM on February 10, 2008


Wow! It's still got that new universe smell!
posted by XMLicious at 5:01 PM on February 10, 2008


You know, considering the number of stars that have died in the history of the universe, it doesn't surprise me at all to learn that space smells burnt. Of course, George_Spiggott's explanation seems likely to me, so I guess that's just a bit of fanciful thinking.
posted by moonbiter at 3:07 AM on February 11, 2008


Also, throwing people out the airlock is a terrible way to die.

You mean the very act of throwing people out of an airlock could kill you?

Guess I'd better not do that, then.
posted by bwg at 7:49 AM on February 11, 2008


You mean the very act of throwing people out of an airlock could kill you?

Well no, if you act it out, it won't kill you. It has to be done for real.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:56 AM on February 11, 2008


How completely weird. I just spent a good portion of yesterday looking up this very subject, and here it is on the blue.

Odd.

Anyhow, one way to understand what the human body is capable of enduring is to consider the people who do ultra-deep diving, who subject themselves (albeit briefly) to extreme depths with just a lungful of air.

In these cases, the body is undergoing massive external pressures and surviving. Going the other direction, where the body is exposed to an absence of pressure is probably much less detrimental.

As I understand it, you are much more likely to die from exposure and asphyxiation than any kind of pressure related issue if you step out an airlock. Though it sounds like the sum of our practical, experienced based knowledge on the subject is derived from a couple of accidents where people were unintentionally exposed to near vacuum environments.

Or as my wife put it: "They aren't sure? You mean they didn't fire hamsters off into space just to see what would happen? That seems like something scientists would have done."
posted by quin at 3:41 PM on February 11, 2008


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