• Question: What happens to water in Space?

    Asked by 498spcn37 to Xu, Leah-Nani, Kathryn, Hina, Andrew on 18 Jun 2018.
    • Photo: Kathryn Burrows

      Kathryn Burrows answered on 18 Jun 2018:

      It first boils (becomes a gas) due to the lack of atmospheric pressure, and then very quickly freezes (becomes a solid) because of the cold temperature of space.

      Check out this link: https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/water-in-space-what-happens-92a98a3f3a37

    • Photo: Andrew Margetts-Kelly

      Andrew Margetts-Kelly answered on 19 Jun 2018:

      If you had a glass of water and you threw it out the window into space something strange happens. It takes quite a lot to explain everything that happens. The link Kathryn posted is a good one.

      But the short answer is… because the pressure is now instantly below the “triple point” the water is no longer able to exist as liquid… so:
      1. The liquid water near the surface explosively boils and become gas. Some gas bubbles form inside the bulk liquid and cause it to spray everywhere.
      2. The liquid water that boiled off to become gas steals some heat energy from the other water and what’s left drops in temperature very fast until it freezes to become solid ice. It reaches 0.01°C almost instantly.
      3. So you end up with loads of small ice crystals. The solid ice then starts subliming, (going straight form solid to gas) this also steals heat energy so as the ice crystals get smaller they carry on getting colder… to about -10°C in minutes and -20°C within hours and about -60°C in a few months (all depending on how much sunlight there is). As the temperature drops the sublimation happens slower but it will continue subliming and getting colder until it has all turned to gas (but we’re talking squillions of years for this to happen)