Q: What would happen to a human body in space? Would it decompose?
—Ed Whiddon, Lake Spivey
A: Scientists and researchers aren’t sure, Kenneth V. Iserson, professor emeritus of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona and author, told Q&A on the News in an email. Iserson wrote “Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies?” and shared his theories from the second edition of the book, which was published by Galen Press. “Based on the nature of space and the factors that cause a body to decompose, however, one would suspect that a human corpse in space would decay just like any other body as long as it was sealed under an atmospheric pressure approximating that of Earth,” Iserson wrote. He wrote that if a body was “rapidly exposed to the near-vacuum of space, it would disintegrate or very possibly explode,” but if it was slowly introduced to the vacuum, it would stay frozen while receiving amounts of radiation. “The normal mechanisms which cause a body to decompose, autolysis, putrefaction, and exposure to insects and animals, would fail to disturb an ice-cold body in deep space,” Iserson wrote. “The only change would be a gradual drying of the body – creating a freeze-dried mummy.” “Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies?” can be found at GalenPress.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
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