7
$\begingroup$

In the tremendous heat and pressure on the surface of Venus what would happen to an exposed human body?

Would it burn up, dissolve, mummify or something else? Presumably the water and fats would boil away. What would become of proteins and bone?

$\endgroup$
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ The person would die. All the rest is grisly pointless detail. What possible difference could it make ? $\endgroup$ – StephenG Feb 11 '17 at 23:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The body will be cooked just like in a pressure cooker. $\endgroup$ – Count Iblis Feb 11 '17 at 23:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @StephenG I agree, it is grisly, but physics is about the matter. $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Feb 12 '17 at 0:04
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps Worldbuilding SE would have been a better place for your question? $\endgroup$ – CJ Dennis Feb 12 '17 at 3:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As I never tire of saying, there's an excellent sci-fi story The Land of Crimson Clouds by Soviet writers Arkadiy and Boris Strugatsky. It was written before we knew what Venus actually was like, so the main characters encounter some wildlife, and even walk around without helmets and costumes. $\endgroup$ – Gallifreyan Feb 12 '17 at 13:12
17
$\begingroup$

The effect of the pressure is insignificant compared to the effect of the temperature. 90atm pressure could be even survivable for a short time (in an argon atmosphere with 0.2atm partial pressure of oxygen).

400C temperature causes mortal burning wounds within seconds (if the whole body is affected). Some seconds later the person is unconscious because of the overheating of the brain. Death occurs within a minute.

The Venusian atmosphere is mainly CO2 (with a little nitrogen), thus oxidizing reactions won't happen with the body. Also any rotting process is prevented.

Mummification could happen - Venus is as dry as the Sahara. But proteins can't survive in this temperature for very long.

The result would be a dry, charred, carbonized body, with nearly intact bones in it (CaCO3 is still stable at this temperature).

If there is very little O2 in the Venusian surface (its high atmosphere has relatively more), then it would slowly oxidize the remains. In this case, the result will be a skeleton.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. This seems reasonable. I'm sketching out a short story about human habitats floating in the upper reaches of the Venusian atmosphere where bodies of the dead are "dumped overboard." I am also assuming that terminal velocity will be less than on Earth due to increased atmospheric density. $\endgroup$ – John Wayland Bales Feb 12 '17 at 0:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JohnWaylandBales Right, the density of the Venusian atmosphere is around half of the water. They would fall softly. Although the atmosphere is much larger (around 60km high is there 1atm pressure), I suspect the body would be yet enough... wellconnected to not break apart on touchdown. $\endgroup$ – peterh says reinstate Monica Feb 12 '17 at 0:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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