No, you cannot breathe on Ceres.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can You Breathe On Ceres? (EXPLAINED)
Relevant Facts About Ceres
Ceres is dwarf planet.
You can find it in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
It is the only object classified as a dwarf planet in the internal solar system.
The surface of Ceres is solid.
Ceres has a very thin atmosphere, composed of small amounts of water vapor.
This water vapor is probably the product of sun exposure on the water ice that was exposed on surface of the planet by meteor strikes (evaporation).
Ceres has very little gravity as compared to Earth, only about 3%.
Thus a person on Earth who weighs about 200 pounds would weigh only about 6 pounds on Ceres.
One of the consequences of little gravity is that Ceres does not hold onto much of its atmosphere.
The atmospheric pressure on the surface of Ceres is almost non-existent, almost a vacuum.
Relevant Facts About Human Respiration
Physically, humans need to breathe oxygen for bodily function.
We can’t survive on 100% oxygen for long without damage (unless there is a medical necessity).
And we definitely cannot survive in an environment where the amount of oxygen in the “air” that we breathe is less than we are used to or even completely absent.
Further, we can’t breathe in a vacuum.
Humans can physical inhale hydrogen, helium, and other gases that make up the atmospheres of other planets.
But even if we were to breathe those in (other damage that could occur aside from the temperature and toxicity), our bodies would still feel like we were suffocating.
Why Can’t Humans Breathe On Ceres?
Humans can’t breathe on Ceres because there is no breathable oxygen in Ceres’ thin water vapor atmosphere.
Aside from the lack of oxygen in Ceres’ atmosphere, the atmosphere pressure is almost non-existent.
For humans, trying to breathe on Ceres would be like trying to breathe out in open space.
The gases and liquids in the body exposed to the vacuum would react to the lack of pressure and cause damage to the body while the human suffocated and lost consciousness.
Does This Mean That Humans Can’t Live On Ceres?
No, the lack of breathable oxygen in the dwarf planet’s atmosphere does not mean that humans cannot live on Ceres.
It just means that we’ll need a lot of technology to make the place habitable.
Space exploration agencies have a close eye on Ceres because of the potential for the existence of large deposits of liquid water under the surface.
Water (liquid or ice) could potentially be used to manufacture breathable oxygen or even rocket fuel.
The solid surface of the dwarf planet, it’s location, the lack of crushing pressure/gravity, an atmosphere free of toxic chemicals, absence of wild storms/weather, plus the resources on the planet could make it a good outpost for space exploration.
Not to mention that there could be life in the water in some form.
Did You Know? (Other Facts About Ceres)
Here are some facts you may not have known about Ceres:
- While the other dwarf planets in our solar system have moons of their own, Ceres has none.
- Ceres was first discovered in the 1800s, and was originally classified as an asteroid.
- Ceres was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006 along with Pluto.
- Ceres spins around one time in about nine Earth hours. It takes Ceres about 4.6 Earth years to complete its orbit around the sun one time.
- Ceres is largely made of ice. There may even actually be more water on Ceres than there is on Earth.
- While the gravity on Ceres as well as the escape velocity are quite low, a human could not leave the surface of Ceres and fly out into space by jumping.
- The temperature on the surface of Ceres fluctuates wildly, depending on whether the specific surface area of the dwarf planet is facing the sun. Daytime temps are around minus 100 degrees F while dark/night time temps are colder than minus 200 degree F.
- Since there is little atmosphere on Ceres, if you were to stand on the surface and look up, the sky would always be black, day or night. There would also be no clouds or weather (such as snow or rain).
- Ceres is over 250 million miles away from Earth. Compare that to Pluto, which is more than 3.2 billion miles away from Earth.
- Scientists opine that the interior of Ceres is warm, due to the physical evidence on the surface of the eruption of cryovolcanoes.
- The surface of Ceres is heavily cratered. With little atmosphere to protect it, meteors hit its surface often.
The exploration of space is fascinating, especially as we look for other potentially habitable places in our solar system.
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