Thinking about space sex? Good luck! Washing your hands? Well, that won't be easy out there either. Space is a wonderfully scary place where everyday materials and the human body go through weird changes.
The insight we've gained from Star Trek and Starship Troopers isn't exactly the full truth about space travel. Jalopnik readers know ten facts that are often stranger than fiction.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy! Photo Credit: NASA and Samaja
Here are your top ten choices for the difficulties of space travel.
Photo Credit: Mark Kern (steak)/NASA
10.) Penises don't work as well in space
Losing blood pressure is not good for your sex life. Reader cazzyodo explains how blood pressure drops, which leads to some size ramifications.
Our bodies essentially adjust to fight the force of gravity. In zero-G, astronauts can lose muscle mass at a rate of 5% a week. Most people know at least the basis of that fact, but bones can also atrophy at a rate of 1% a week.
Blood pressure evens out throughout the body as well. The body of an astronaut gets so used to this that when they return to earth they often need to be taken from the shuttle (or whatever they use now) on stretchers.
Suggested By: cazzyodo, Photo Credit: Getty Images
9.) Water acts as jelly out there
CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield performed a simple science experiment designed by 10th grade Lockview High School students Kendra Lemke and Meredith Faulkner. Everything you know about surface tension is taken to the extreme. He is awesome.
Suggested By: rterickson, Photo Credit: NASA
8.) Lightning almost aborted Apollo 12
rterickson sent us a great story about how the Apollo 12 made its astronauts laugh...
Apollo 12 was struck by lightning and the mission was nearly aborted. While this video is a bit over dramatic and somewhat incorrect at times, it sums the event up quite well. The first YouTube comment explains it best;
"The switch puts the Signal Conditioning Equipment (the stuff that turns instrumentation signals into readable voltages for telemetry/displays) onto a backup power supply. Its precise purpose is to maintain SCE operation given a power failure. Saying that the switch was not designed for this particular purpose is a bit misleading... because it sort of is. It is possible that what was being said was that this particular situation (lightning strikes?) is not exactly what it was designed for."
Suggested By: rterickson
7.) Satnav in space
How exactly do you coordinate with a spaceship? Reader For Sweden explains NASA's version of GPS, so to speak.
Despite the inability to control interplanetary spacecraft due to signals only traveling at the speed of light, controllers on Earth provide continuous navigation updates. This was especially true for Deep Impact, a mission that involved flying a copper impactor into a comet and photographing the results. In order to keep Deep Impact on target, astronomers were continuously calculating the ephemerides of the comet and other planetary bodies, then transmitting the data to the spacecraft. The spacecraft then looked for the bodies with its own cameras and successfully navigated to the comet.
Suggested By: For Sweden, Photo Credit: NASA
6.) Astronauts are time travelers
Thanks to the magic of time dilation, astronauts experience less time up in space than we experience down here. If you're hoping for some extreme Superman-turning-Earth-backwards effects, we will disappoint you; the record holder for the most time dilation is cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev by no more than 20 milliseconds.
Suggested By: Hifrequency, Photo Credit: Getty Images
5.) NASA used to let commanders name their spacecraft with hilarious results
NASA seems like it was pretty chill back in the day, as evidenced by this story when one astronaut tried to name a Gemini spacecraft after a Broadway show to piss off his bosses.
Gus Grissom was a cheeky guy for naming his second capsule The Unsinkable Molly Brown, an obvious assertion that the sinking of Liberty Bell 7 was not his fault and that Gemini 3 wouldn’t end up at the bottom of the ocean as well. NASA didn’t share his sense of humor and requested him to change the name. He suggested The Titanic.
They allowed Molly Brown, but this would be the last flight that NASA allowed the Commander to name until the introduction of the Lunar Module. After that, both CSM and LEM were named by the crew to avoid confusion during radio communication.
Suggested By: rterickson, Photo Credit: NASA
4.) Space smells like fried steak and burning metal
You can't stick your nose out into the vacuum of space, however, astronauts who do go out into space and return back to their capsule or onto Earth note that their equipment picks up a distinct odor. And that odor is pretty gnarly.
Some say it smells like fried steak, other say it's like burning metal, others say it's like rum or raspberries.
The Atlantic reports that the smell is caused by high energy vibrations in the materials that go out into space and they pick up smell when they come into contact with air.
Suggested By: TimeTraveler, Photo Credit: NASA
3.) Astronauts grow in space
Feeling short? Here's an idea from Shane Elliot!
Astronauts grow about two inches taller while in space. Because of this, spacesuits are made two inches taller than the wearer's height.
Suggested By: Shane Elliot, Photo Credit: Getty Images
2.) The International Space Station Is Falling
Basically, they have to keep the ISS away from burning up in the atmosphere. Here's what For Sweden had to say about it:
Low earth orbit is not outside of the Earth's atmosphere. This isn't much of an issue for short flights, but becomes an issue over longer duration such as the time the ISS has been in orbit. The atmospheric drag causes the ISS to lose velocity, which results in a loss of altitude. The graph shows the altitude of the ISS over time; vertical lines indicate orbit corrections. Corrections are done via crew and cargo modules that have resupplied the station.
Suggested By: For Sweden, Photo Credit: Chad Hammons
1.) You are doing 872,405 MPH standing still
We are all way over Bugatti Veyron territory. f86sabre explains:
We are all traveling through space. Even the tin hat wearing Apollo deniers are traveling through space. Latest estimates put the speed of the Earth in relation to the cosmic background radiation at 390 km/sec, or 872,405 MPH. So, we are collectively hauling ass.
Suggested By: f86sabre, Photo Credit: Getty Images