So you’ve decided to go into space. Whether it’s for a mission to save the sun, set up base on the red planet as part of the Mars One mission, or to take up residence on that moon property you invested in all those years ago (gosh, we’re a gullible species), you’re one of the few who wish to, yet again, venture somewhere we’re biologically unfit for. Speaking on the first group of Mars colonists, SpaceX’s Elon Musk said, “The risk of fatality will be high; there’s just no way around it.” So if the absence of oxygen doesn’t do it, then a combination of scientific fact and filmic fiction has taught us that there are a number of other exciting ways sh*t can hit the fan when you’re exploring the great unknown. Here are just a few of the things space might throw at you.
You made it into orbit! It’s only the beginning of your long journey ahead, and something’s already trying to kill you. If you thought litter was a problem on Earth, just wait till it comes speeding at you at 28,000km/h in the form of a debris cloud. Get your vessel well beyond 2,000km from the Earth’s surface to avoid joining the millions of pieces of space junk circling your former home. Don’t let your eyes fool you – even a tiny fleck of paint is enough to put literal holes in your endeavour.
Close Enounters Of The Deadly Kind
Fresh out of cryo-sleep and having just set up camp on an unchartered planet, you encounter a strange, alien lifeform. You should probably touch it, right (‘cos that’s always been a good idea to the deceased shmucks in sci-fi movies)? In the same way you wouldn’t go waking up apex predators on sub-Saharan plains, it’s probably best to leave any creatures, goo or death-inflicting technology alone. Unless, of course, you’re charmed by the idea of something popping out of your chest at breakfast.
Relativity Making You Unrelatable On Earth
During your travels, you might disembark on a planet that seems a little off. Everything feels heavier, the landscape defies the laws of physics as you know them, and Earth-time is moving a whole lot faster than you can comprehend. In the event that you’re in the proximity of a wormhole and subject to special relativity, you’re going to want to hustle back to your spacecraft at lightning speed. Forget the specimens and research data – every minute you spend on this anomaly translates to years back on Earth, and unless you want to learn a whole new set of pop culture references, you best get off that rock.
Feeling Paranoid Around Your Android
Is your android giving you the stink-eye? Or perhaps your on-board AI has developed a newfound sass-mouth? You may be dealing with a machine gone rogue. What was once crucial to your operation has now given you the figurative b*tch-slap and deduced that maintaining your bag of blood and bones is a hindrance to the mission. If you’ve arrived at the conclusion that it’s not just your paranoia playing up this time, keep clear of secluded spaces, airlocks, and – we cannot stress this enough – never accept drinks from androids named David.
Being Blown Out Of An Airlock
You were finally outwitted by that robot (we warned you), and now you’ve been blown out of the airlock. But don’t worry, your eyes won’t pop out of your head and you won’t turn into a popsicle. Pro tip: exhale as soon as you’re ejected, and you’ll have about 15 seconds before deoxygenated blood from your lungs reaches your brain and causes you to pass out. You’ll have a few minutes to get your unconscious, floating body to safety with no lasting effects – but you will lose control of your bowels, so don’t go hugging your rescuers too hard.
Succumbing To Space Madness
You’re beginning to feel a little edgy, and the emptiness of space, along with your cramped domicile, has you seeing red. And who the heck ate your last tube of space paste!? It looks like you’ve got a full-blown case of space madness on your hands. While the sickness has never manifested in real life and is owed largely to a film and television trope, we can imagine spending the first two years of your life on Mars, with the only three other humans, might lead one to abandon the mission in a suicidal blaze of glory. Whether space madness is purely fiction, or that the conditions of the Mars One mission might give rise to plain old insanity, as you look out at the endless expanse of red dirt, take a deep breath and remember – you wanted this.
Being Turned Into Spaghetti By A Black Hole
Spotting what you suspect may be a black hole, you ask yourself the age-old question: “What would happen to me if I were to enter it?”. You could find yourself in a tesseract, interacting with a past version of yourself; you may open up a portal to hell as your ship leaps outside the known universe; you might even become a giant foetus. Astrophysicists theorise that you’d likely stretch into spaghetti (the scientific term for it is “spaghettified”) when entering smaller black holes, and potentially ‘split’ into two paradoxical states inside giant black holes as you pass the event horizon and approach the singularity. Our answer? Don’t be the first to find out.
Don't Can't Cry
It’s been a tough journey; whether you’ve lost comrades along the way, been hoodwinked by your fellow explorers (man or machine), run out of gas as you contemplate your fate, or successfully completed your mission, it’s the end of the road. As you take in the beauty of the stars and faraway galaxies, you can’t help but feel the waterworks coming on. But the tears aren’t streaming down your face like when you watched Interstellar – they’re going…nowhere. That’s because without gravity at work, your tears simply build up on the surface of your eyeball. Your last moments of existence shouldn’t be hampered by salty globules on your corneas, so wipe those tears away with gusto as you conclude your expedition to the final frontier.
Text Trent Davis
Images Various Sources