Do You Have What It Takes To Survive In Space?
Sponsored by “Passengers” In Theaters Today
Life on Earth is coming to an end. In an effort to continue the human race, you’re asked to board a spacecraft that will launch out of Earth’s atmosphere and land on another planet. The goal, of course, is for you and the other survivors to re-colonize and create a new world. Are you up for the challenge?
Interplanetary spaceflight is becoming less science-fiction and more likely with every 24-hour rotation. But leaving Earth requires a lot more than space-suiting up and hopping aboard a shuttle. Astronauts spend years preparing for the physical and mental hurdles for life in zero gravity, which our bodies are not built to handle.
In the new action-thriller “Passengers,” Aurora (played by Jennifer Lawrence) and Jim (Chris Pratt) wake up in an unmanned spaceship and must figure out how to survive space alone—watch them both battle gravity in “Passengers,” in theaters Wednesday.
So, could you hack it? Here’s a breakdown of everything that happens to your body in space.
You Grow Taller
Turns out your spinal column actually expands in zero gravity — that means you could grow up to three inches taller. The downside? This sporadic growth can cause back aches and nerve problems. When astronauts come home, it takes a few months for their vertebra to return to normal.
Your Lower Body Gets Frail
In a weightless environment, you won’t need muscles to carry and support your body. In response, your lower leg and back muscles will shrink — fast. You could lose up to 20% of your muscle mass in just 5–11 days. Be prepared to spend long hours exercising in zero G to prevent your body from turning into a wet noodle.
Your Sense Of Smell Intensifies
In microgravity, aromas that permeate the environment hang around a lot longer than they do on Earth.
“If you fart in zero G, you have a major problem,” said astronomer Derrick Pitts from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. “If you fart…the gas stays right there. It doesn’t go anywhere.”
Your Bone Density Plummets
On Earth, your bones constantly break down and rebuild new layers, but in space the rebuilding cycle stops, resulting in serious bone-density loss.
“Astronauts lose a lot of calcium essential to their bones — it’s a bit like osteoporosis here on Earth,” said space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock from University College London.
Your Diet Kind Of Sucks
Eating in space won’t be nearly as satisfying as it was on Earth. Many astronauts find their sense of taste changes — foods they love on the third rock lose their appeal.
To make matter worse, a lot of your favorite foods are off limits. Breads, for example, create lots of problems. Crumbs fly around and interfere with equipment and get in the astronauts’ eyes. Oh, and salt and pepper? Forget about it.
You’re Space Sick All The Time
In zero gravity, your spatial orientation and equilibrium are completely out of whack. This disorientation is known as Space Adaptation Syndrome and makes you feel upside down and unable to locate your extremities. It can also lead to headaches, poor concentration and a lot of nausea.
Your Eyeballs Suffer Real Damage
Gazing into the unending abyss doesn’t just cause existential crises — it also can do serious harm to your eyesight. Space radiation tears through your retinas and triggers a signal the brain interprets as an intense flash of light. It’s why many astronauts suffer from cataracts.
Plus, recent research suggests a buildup of brain fluids may squish an astronaut’s eyeballs from behind, forever changing their shape. *shudders*
You Re-Learn To Use The Bathroom
In an effort to combat free-flying feces, space bathrooms require a very unique design. The toilet uses a light suction to direct waste through a four-inch hole, while you pee into a separate movable hose.
You Won’t Sleep The Same Way
Sleep disorders are common among astronauts, since your circadian rhythm gets thrown off and the stress of prolonged isolation.
To try to get a decent night’s sleep, you strap yourself into sleeping bags every night and wake up to your arms floating above you. Worst sleepover ever.
Watch Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt fight to survive in space in “Passengers,” in theaters Wednesday. Watch the trailer below.
All images courtesy of Ines Vuckovic at Dose