Curious Kids: Can people survive in space?

There’s this amazing place orbiting the Earth called the International Space Station. There are people who live there, all day, every day.
There’s this amazing place orbiting the Earth called the International Space Station. There are people who live there, all day, every day.

In partnership with The Conversation, #Trending brings you Curious Kids, a series where we ask experts to answer questions from kids.

Can people live outside Earth?– Holly, age 7, Toowoomba, Australia

Jonti Horner, professor of astrophysics, University of Southern Queensland, Australia:

That’s a great question, Holly. The short answer is yes, but it’s really difficult.

Space is very dangerous and without protection people would not be able to survive there.

There’s no air in space, so you couldn’t breathe. It’s cold, so you’d freeze. And there’s lots of nasty radiation – from the sun and from the rest of the universe – so you’d get really bad sunburn. But despite all that, we have people living in space all the time!

There’s this amazing place orbiting the Earth called the International Space Station. There are people who live there, all day, every day. You can sometimes even see it from your back yard, on a clear night.

The space station is like a submarine built especially for space. A giant tin can filled with air and kept nice and warm, not too hot and not too cold. It protects the astronauts from the cold of space, gives them air to breathe and protects them from all that nasty radiation. We send up regular shipments of food and drink, and everything they need to survive.

In other words, we’ve found a way to let people live outside Earth and we do it by making the place we want to live just like home. However, it’s not safe for people to live at the space station forever and being in space for a long time isn’t good for your body.

If people ever get to live on Mars or on the moon, or on other places in our solar system and beyond, it will be because we have found a way to make those places nice, safe and a bit more like home.

While living on the moon or Mars sounds like science fiction, people are talking seriously about doing just that in the future. It would be very dangerous and really expensive, but who knows what the future holds?

  • To read the rest of Horner’s answer, go to theconversation.com

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