What would happen if an astronaut took off their helmet in space?

Hint: it’s not good news

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Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping adjusts her helmet on Earth, rather than in space. Image Credit: China National Space Administration

Chinese astronaut Wang Yaping adjusts her helmet on Earth, rather than in space. Image Credit: China National Space Administration

Asked by John Morris

If an astronaut’s helmet was to accidentally come loose or come off completely in space, then obviously, this would be very bad news indeed. Remember that space is a vacuum, meaning that there are no particles floating around. When you are exposed to this, the air in your lungs has no choice but to be forced out through your mouth.

Not too long after, your breathing motions will seem fairly normal despite their being no air to breathe until you die of oxygen deprivation. Contrary to popular science fiction, you won’t freeze instantly and your eyeballs won’t explode but you will become aware of the spit on your tongue boiling away, as well as your sweat. On the whole, you’ll experience a kind of fizzy feeling – almost like drinking a carbonated drink.

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