View Full Version : Organic matter in space
08-14-2007, 10:33 AM
Obviously being exposed to deep space wouldn't do living tissue any favors but imagine I had a box containing my favorite cotton t-shirt, a paperback novel, a wooden toy train and a mink coat and stored it on the moon for a few decades. What would the results be? Would the objects be preserved in the vacuum of space or would it desiccate them and turn them to dust or somesuch? Would this ruin my plan to store all my old books on the moon?
08-14-2007, 11:16 AM
I would expect that any volitile compounds would evaporate. A t-shirt is mostly made of cellulose or other polymersd and they are not volitile. Your books are pretty safe from the vacuum of space for the same reason. As you suggested, anything you leave in the vacuum of space will be pretty well dessicated, but as long as the volitile compounds aren't necesary for the structure to hold an object should be pretty stable to a vacuum.
The only thing that I think might be a hazard to these things would be radiation. If the objects are buried deep enough, I think this should not be a problem. i do not know how long it would take solar radiation to decompose these compounds, but I expect only a few years of direct sunlight would cause significant damage to organic compounds.
08-14-2007, 11:27 AM
Daytime temps on the lunar surface get up around 225°F. The glue holding your book together might melt at that temperature, so you'd best keep your stash in the shade.
08-14-2007, 11:44 AM
Good point. The glue would probably lose any small molecules that act to retain flexibility at that temperature so even if it didn't melt completely, the glue would become brittle.
08-14-2007, 03:58 PM
Daytime temps on the lunar surface get up around 225°F.
Temperature of what though? Sure, the surface tempearture (i.e. the temperature of the grains of lunar dust on the surface) will be 225°F, or 107°C, but there is no atmosphere, so the temperature of the area of space immediately adjacent to the surface will be pretty close to absolute zero.
The object in question will heat up by radiative and/or conductive heat transfer, depending on it's pertinent thermal properties, and what it is sitting on or stored within.
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