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What Is The Temperature Of Outer Space?

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The temperature of outer space is not an exact number.  Varying temperatures within the void of space can fluctuate thousands to millions of degrees.  This is because space has no measurable temperature.  How is this possible? Measuring the temperature of space “is only possible when there is an object in space to record.  Temperature is basically the bulk measure of the hotness or coldness of a body. Heat, on the other hand, is the total kinetic energy of the molecules inside the body.” In the vastness of space, matter is less dense compared to the Earth’s atmosphere.  Since there are less particles within space, measuring temperature alone is nearly impossible.  It is only when scientists measure the temperature of an object in space, that they can record temperature.

That being said consider travelling into outer space, what could you expect?  Be prepared for extreme temperature shifts.  This will depend on your proximity to the Sun.  The cosmic background temperature is -455 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures within space start at this point and then increase based on distance from stars and our Sun and whether the object you are measuring is direct sunlight of shaded from the Sun.  When shielded from the sun temperatures will plummet to the cosmic background temperature; however, within the Sun’s rays, temperatures will rise.  Extremely high temperatures exist at various points of space as a result of solar flares or solar winds with temperatures exceeding thousands or even millions of degrees.

outer space temperature
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this photo from the International Space Station on Tuesday morning, Sept. 2, 2014. “My favorite views from #space – just past #sunrise over the ocean,” the Expedition 40 astronaut tweeted.

Throughout our history of space travel, varying temperatures have proven to be one of the most challenging aspects for astronauts and engineers.  Protection not only for the astronauts, but also for spacecraft is a complex process to ensure appropriate heating and cooling mechanisms are in place to keep the astronauts and equipment safe from the extreme temperature swings.

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