Space: What happens to the body of a deceased space traveler?
In the previous few years, space research has advanced tremendously. People are now embarking on space tourism trips in increasing numbers. Entrepreneur Elon Musk plans to establish a colony on Mars with his business SpaceX, and commercial space company Blue Origin has begun sending paying clients there. There are a lot of questions that come up during these experiments as well. There will be a slew of new practical issues that no one has seen before.
The most pressing question is what will happen to a person’s body if they die during a spacewalk or while they are in orbit, as a result of the fact that death is an unavoidable reality. No one can predict when the person will pass away.
People die on Earth, and their bodies decompose in various stages over time. The earliest forensic science book, titled ‘The Washing Away of Wrong,’ was published in 1247 by Song Si. What about in outer space? Will everything be the same? Will the corpses decompose there as well? That is by far the most critical question to ask. To put it another way, because the conditions in space are entirely different from those on Earth.
What causes the decay of dead bodies?
First, the blood flow ceases (livor mortis), and then, as a result of gravity, the blood begins to accumulate. It takes about an hour for the carcass to cool completely, at which point the muscles become stiff. Rigor mortis is the medical term for this condition. Once the chemical reaction is accelerated, the cell wall is broken down, and the contents are ejected.
The bacteria also spread throughout the body as a result of this. The soft cells are destroyed, and the gas produced as a result causes the corpse to expand. After then, a foul odor begins to permeate, and the soft tissues start to crumble.
When a body is preserved as a mummy
The corpse’s decomposition is a result of an internal process. Environmental factors like temperature, insect activity, whether the corpse is buried or wrapped in cloth, etc., can influence the decay process. The method of making a mummy takes place in hot or cold, dry environments.
The hydrolysis process can break down fat into a wax-like substance in a wet, oxygen-free environment. The waxy coating acts as a protection for the skin, keeping it safe from the environment.
Many times, the soft tissues perish and are replaced by simply the skeleton in these circumstances. These intricate tissues have a long shelf life.
Is it possible for the bodies of the deceased to decompose in space?
The ‘livor mortise phase’ will be altered on other worlds because of the differing gravity, and blood will not coagulate in space because of the lack of seriousness. Inside the spacesuit, the ‘rigour mortise’ process will continue. Soil microorganisms aid in the decomposition process as well. However, some planets in our solar system are devoid of insects and other carcass-eating animals.
The breakdown process is greatly influenced by temperature. The temperature on the Moon, for example, ranges from 120°C to 170°C. This allows researchers to observe the effects of temperature-induced alterations or the freezing of deceased individuals. Human bodies, on the other hand, will be in space when the aliens arrive. As a result, a new method of cremation will likely be required.