This Is How Long You Would Survive on Each Planet Before Being Vaporized, Crushed or Asphyxiated
If you’ve ever dreamed of skating on Saturn’s rings or making a pit-stop in love planet Venus, maybe those fantasies are best kept to dreamland. In reality, each of the planets in our solar system besides Earth would immediately annihilate you — in pretty much the worst way possible.
In short, not even a spacesuit would save you from Jupiter’s insane atmospheric pressure or Venus’s 900-degree temperatures. Unfortunately, you’d pretty much be gone in the blink of an eye — but it’s still fascinating to know exactly how that would happen.
So, we know that all of the solar system’s planets (and our Sun) would immediately kill you with not much effort at all. In short, you’d be gone faster than a runaway planet propelling through space at a cool 30 million MPH. That being said, not every planet is made equal, and survivability conditions differ greatly. We’ve uncovered exactly how long you would survive on each of our solar system’s planets, and what would be the eventual reason behind your demise. Truly breathtaking.
Let’s start with the first planet in our solar system, the burning-hot Mercury. As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explained to Business Insider, the side of Mercury that faces the Sun is very hot — around 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the side that doesn’t face the Sun is freezing at around -290 F. The space expert explains that you could survive the temperatures if you straddled the two zones and rotated your body “like a rotisserie chicken” (good to know!). However, you could only survive as long as you could hold your breath, which would average out to just around two minutes.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Glass, associate professor at the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Biological Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology told Newsweek, “If you died on the hot side, you would be burned to death in seconds, while asphyxiating and having all the water vaporize from your body.” Yay!
If you thought Venus might be more hospitable than Mercury since it’s farther from the Sun, that’s not exactly true. In fact, it’s actually our solar system’s hottest planet, and its thick atmosphere traps heat — creating a greenhouse effect. If you make a trip to Venus, you can expect 900-degree temperatures, insanely-high pressure from the atmosphere, and toxic clouds of sulfuric acid (meaning it probably smells like rotten eggs, too).
Tyson explains it has around the same gravity as Earth so you could actually walk around — until you vaporize in less than a second. Glass agrees: “While struggling to breathe, you would burn from extreme heat and acid in seconds.”
While a colony on Mars is a much-talked-about possibility and has been on Elon Musk’s bucket list for years, surviving there without a spacesuit is, of course, absolutely impossible. While you probably knew that, how long could you actually step on its surface before dying?
In comparison to the rest of the solar system’s planets, Mars’ temperatures are relatively okay: the warmest temps go up to 70 F, but can drop down to -220 F during winter at its poles. Okay, we’ll pack a parka, got it. However, Mars’ atmosphere is 95% carbon dioxide with just some traces of oxygen, so you wouldn’t be able to breathe.
Glass explained to Newsweek, “If carbon dioxide builds up in our blood as a person asphyxiates, they experience the stressful sensation of breathlessness before losing consciousness and then dying of asphyxia.” Nice.
Now that we’ve arrived at the gas giants, let’s just say it’s all downhill from here. While Jupiter looks like a gentle giant planet, it’s anything but. For one, the planet doesn’t really have a surface, and is mostly composed of gases and liquids. It does have a solid core below all that helium and hydrogen, though. Either way, Tyson explains that you would “descend forever into the gaseous atmosphere,” never to be seen again. That being said, you would quickly be “crushed by the pressure of the planet’s layers.” As in, 650 million pounds of pressure at its core.
Plus, the average temperature is around -238 degrees F, so that’s not too survivable, either. Final consensus? You could live in Jupiter for less than a second.
As kids, many of us looked at plastic Saturn models and thought it would be so cool to walk around its rings. However, that would be impossible— not just because survivability in Saturn is less than a second, but its rings are actually made of billions of comet, asteroid, ice, rock, and dust particles. The more you know.
As another gas giant, Tyson describes how you would “descend to the center” and be immediately “crushed by the atmosphere” as the pressure grows. In fact, the pressure is more than 1,000 times Earth’s, and its atmosphere is 96% hydrogen and 4% helium.
6. Uranus and Neptune
Uranus and Neptune are also gas giants, so as Tyson explains point-blank, “No, forget about it.” Yep, you would only survive on each of these for less than one second. That’s not even taking into account the temperatures, with Neptune averaging -373 degrees F and Uranus at -353 F.
Plus, just like with Jupiter and Saturn, you would descend into their gas, liquid, and icy atmosphere and non-solid surface until being crushed by pressure. Glass explains, “Their atmospheres are composed of hydrogen with some helium, methane, and water, but minimal carbon dioxide, so at least as you froze and were crushed to death, you would lose consciousness more gently.”
There’s always a silver lining!
7. The Sun
While it’s not a planet, we thought we’d also inquire into living on the star right at the center of our Solar System. As you can imagine, it would be very painful, but the experience would only last around a second (silver linings!). Tyson told Business Insider, “You would vaporize, that’s really fast, right there. Not a good place to visit.”