Will your body decay if you RIP while in outer space?

Ever wondered what would happen if you were out on a trip to outer space..Glead mlead plead ..suddenly ,and for some reason,your soul decided to leave the body and have a journey of its own!!!

The decomposition of a body occurs in stages. In the first stage enzymes within the body begin to break down the cells and vapours are released. In the second stage scavengers (bacterial and animal) are responsible for a great deal of the decompostion. Obviously these scavengers don’t exist in the vacuum of space so it’s unlikely this part of the process would take place.
Decomposition is also influenced by temperature, availability of oxygen and humidity. All of these being low in space would indicate the body would be more likely to be preserved. In fact frozen. However, without a space suit it’s equally likely that the body would degrade as the sun’s ray’s slowly ‘microwave’ it. This may not totally degrade the body but may simply dry it out completely.

Bacteria and fungi carry out the majority biological decomposition, or “recycling” of organic molecules in dead organisms. Humans have a dense microbial flora living on the skin, and in the gastrointestinal and genitourinay systems. After death these organisms have free reign as host defenses are no longer present to keep them in their place (a veritable microbial smorgasbord..). However, their growth and metabolism require certain conditions.

  1. Oxygen?: Aerobes, microbes requiring oxygen, cannot grow and divide without it. However, after death, the host is anoxic due to the lack of O2 transport in the blood. No O2 in space either..
  2. No oxygen?: Anaerobes represent the majority of organisms that colonize host environments. They cannot grow in the presence of O2. These guys carry out most biodecomposition reactions in normal environments.
  3. “Food source”: Microbes need certain things to grow, a source of carbon (sugars, e.g.), nitrogen (found in proteins), and vitamins and minerals. Death provides the ultimate organic buffet if you happen to be a bacterium. Host proteins, sugars, fats, vitamins and minerals are suddenly there for the taking..
  4. “Growth conditions”: All microbes have an ideal temperature for growth – 37°C (98.6°F) is usually optimal for organisms colonizing mammalian intestines. Pressure can also play a role, particularly in the vacuum of space. The vacuum could possibly rupture cell membranes. However, the temperature of space ( close to absolute zero) will keep the body from decomposing once the microbes freeze.

We don’t know how long it takes for a dead body to freeze in outer space .It is guessedto be significantly less than half an hour provided there was no insulation to slow the loss of heat, something more if the pour soul died in a space suit. You might be able to see some early signs of decomposing, but I doubt there would be any significant buildup of gases from anaerobic metabolism (H2, CO2, CH4 and others) or other indications of long-term decay.

Read an interesting response to this question

You mean if you were simply inside an orbiting space habitat, or if you were actually literally in space with nothing between you and the vacuum?

Inside a space habitat, there are enough bacteria present in your body already that it would probably decompose in more or less the normal manner. Of course, any other astronauts inside the same vehicle wouldn’t be ready to just let your corpse lie around and stink up their precious air. They’d probably put the body in a bag and send it down with the next cargo ship so that your family could spend a few hours crying over it.

On the other hand, if you were actually in space, then the decomposition process would occur to some extent, but it would stop before very long. The bacteria, exposed to the extremes of temperature and radiation in space, would not have enough energy available to keep on thriving for all that long. Most especially, they would tend to survive only inside your body, leaving the skin more or less untouched (this would have the strange effect of rotting much of your insides while leaving almost no visible mark of decomposition on your body’s surface). Once things got too nasty for them, some of them would go into a dormant state, which unfortunately for them would last more or less forever, resulting in their eventual deaths. Depending on where you were in the Universe, your body might also be broken up by other processes; in Earth orbit you would over the period of a few hundred years be torn up by debris impacts, and if you were anywhere inside the area of the Earth’s orbit, the Sun’s energy would cause your body to eventually break apart through heat (this would also kill all the bacteria somewhat sooner than would otherwise be the case). Out in interstellar or intergalactic space, on the other hand, your frozen corpse could conceivably last in a recognizable form for millions of years.”

:-)
Courtesy:

http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/1998-02/885056222.Mi.r.html

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