How do the astronauts stay unharmed in -455 degrees in space? Originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Bob Singer, NASA Mission Manager, on Quora:
How do the astronauts stay unharmed in -455 degrees in space? In the ISS, it’s a matter of heat distribution. One side is cold, the other really hot due to solar radiation (like feeling the sunlight on your skin). Science Mission Directorate of NASA says: “Without thermal controls, the temperature of the orbiting Space Station’s Sun-facing side would soar to 250 degrees F (121 C), while thermometers on the dark side would plunge to minus 250 degrees F (-157 C). There might be a comfortable spot somewhere in the middle of the Station, but searching for it wouldn’t be much fun!
Fortunately for the crew and all the Station’s hardware, the ISS is designed and built with thermal balance in mind, and it is equipped with a thermal control system that keeps the astronauts in their orbiting home cool and comfortable.
In space, it’s a matter of insulation. Just as your blanket keeps your body heat in so you stay warm in bed, NASA space suits have insulation systems as well as heaters. How Stuff Works Says: “Spacesuits designed by NASA for Apollo astronauts used heating elements to protect astronauts from extreme cold. Some of this same technology has been incorporated into a heated vest marketed by the Australian company Jett. It includes rechargeable lithium polymer batteries and flexible heating coils. The garment can keep you toasty at very cold temperatures. Another high-tech insulator incorporates microencapsulated phase-change materials. These are also microscopic balls, but they’re filled with chemicals that change phase that is, go from solid to liquid and back depending on temperature. NASA researchers developed them for use in astronaut glove liners. When a person’s body temperature rises, the material absorbs the heat. When it drops, the material gives off the heat, providing warmth.