Top 8 scary facts of space

8. Sex in Space?
Thanks to the likes of Captain Kirk and Futurama’s sleazy space captain (and proud lothario), Zapp Brannigan – we’re made to believe that outer space relations can be a steamy, sexy affair. However, as experts will confirm, this is definitely not the case.

In a bid to understand how zero gravity nooky may be possible, the actress and space enthusiast, Vanna Bonta, apparently developed the idea of a special spacesuit for two – almost like a giant sleeping bag that keeps a couple stable enough to, ya know. Whether or not this suit ever became a success with astronaut couples, there are a few factors about space sex that might kill the mood. For one thing, lower blood pressure in space means reduced blood flow, so…yeah. Plus, you sweat a lot more in zero G, so sex in a two-person suit

7. Drowning inside a spacesuit?!
Water is normally contained in spacesuits for cooling purposes as well as keeping thirsty astronauts refreshed on a spacewalk. But wardrobe malfunctions can happen, and when they do, there’s every chance that someone could drown inside their spacesuit.

This was a disturbing reality for Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano who was carrying out engineer work when he suddenly felt a pool of water starting to swell at the back of his neck. Luckily, his colleagues helped to guide him back to the safety of the airlock, in which time the water had begun to cover his nose. At one point, Parmitano even considered the desperate measure of releasing the safety valve near his ear – this will have killed him after a while.

6. Recycled sweat and urine…Blegh
Water is a precious commodity on board a spacecraft, and so crew members need to use whatever liquid they have at their disposal (quite literally) to get by. Fresh drinking water is, unfortunately, not a luxury afforded to astronauts doing a long stint in space, and so they need to drink their own recycled waste. 730 litres of it, to be exact! That’s a lot of recycled urine repeatedly going through your system.

To be fair, this is over the course of a year and it’s not as if astronauts will ever be downing the pure stuff in one go for a bet – bit it doesn’t stop it from sounding any less gross! It apparently takes a total of 8 days for the waste to process and become drinkable. Cheers!

5. Stars absorbing stars
You may think differently about wishing on one of these stars. A group of stars that astronomers have aptly named “vampire stars” go about sucking the life blood of their neighbours in order to go on burning for longer.

A smaller star with a lower mass will target a nearby star and become revived by sucking the hydrogen fuel of another to increase its mass. Sneaky. The vampire star will then becomes hotter and a more striking color blue – giving it the appearance of a much younger star. Looks like Hollywood isn’t the only place in the universe where stars go to extremes to look more youthful.

4. Soft baby-feet
Turns out that space travel can serve as a good exfoliator for your skin. After spending about a month in orbit, the dead skin on the soles of an astronaut’s feet can start shedding – leaving them with smoother, baby-soft skin.

As one astronaut, Don Pettit described it: “your feet start to molt, like some reptilian creature. The callused skin on the bottom of your foot sheds, leaving soft pink flesh in its place.” Living in space for too long can actually cause you to start shedding parts of your body, and in real-time? Space travel: not even once.

3. Forget 20/20 vision!
Another body part space tends to mess with is your eyeballs. The pressure levels in space cause an increase in the amount of fluid surrounding your brain, and when this occurs, the extra fluid can strain your optic nerve and cause your eyes to swell. Damn, zero gravity – you scary!

The unsettling effects of this “fluid shift” at it is known to NASA scientists can deform an astronaut’s eyeballs so much that someone with perfect eyesight can end up with near-sighted vision. So, if you went up there with 20/20 vision, you might need to pay a visit to the opticians when you return to Earth.

2. Space, a Giant pinball machine?!
If you’ve ever watched the film Melancholia, then you’ll know what this refers to. Most planets do what’s expected of them and stay put in their own little orbit (like the 8 well-behaved worlds in our own solar system). Unfortunately, some may have been pushed out of their orbit and they might feel like taking it out on us.

What’s particularly scary is that there are as many of these rogue planets as there are stars in our galaxy – and their size is said to equal that of Jupiter. Oh yeah, there are about 400 billion stars in our galaxy, by the way. 400 billion pissed Jupiter-sized balls looking to mark their galactic territory!

1. Pulling into the Abyss
Sounding like something that belongs in a George Lucas script, ‘Dark Flow’ (as scientists describe it) is possibly the mysterious force behind our galaxy’s slow (but very probable) demise. Beyond the known horizon of our universe, where light cannot yet reach us – there appears to be a powerful space vacuum, and it’s sucking matter away one galaxy at a time.

Findings by NASA research scientists in Maryland recently discovered a series of galaxy clusters moving at an incredible speed across the sky. The experts deduced that there is “no reason why the clusters should move at such breakneck speeds, unless they were experiencing a strong pull from something beyond the horizon”. Hope NASA can give us a heads up when our time comes, because some of us have boxsets to finish…

Karl Gustav