Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the temperature of objects in Low Earth Orbit?

Consider LEO to be 600km to 800km.

share|cite|improve this question
You can find an overview of this topic in the appendix A of the UCS's "Countermeasures" report. – mmc May 26 '11 at 21:06
Excellent comment, mmc. I have often toyed with the math behind Zen's question. Have not found a better explanation than the one you linked. Thank you. – Vintage May 27 '11 at 21:04

It depends which object. If the object is a human being in a spaceship, the temperature is approximately 37 °C. If the object is a spherical object that absorbs and re-emits the solar radiation, it's closer to -15 °C in average, like the Earth without the greenhouse effect, and maybe even lower because the solar radiation is shielded by the Earth much of the time. If it's totally shielded from solar radiation, it may acquired the temperature 2.7 K from the cosmic microwave background. Did you expect some universal temperature? Just to be sure, the atmosphere at those high altitudes is de facto non-existent, so this non-existent atmosphere doesn't enforce any unified "air temperature" over there.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.