No, you cannot breathe on Neptune.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can You Breathe On Neptune? (EXPLAINED)
Relevant Facts About Neptune
Neptune is the furthest planet from the sun in our solar system.
Like Uranus, Neptune is called an “ice giant.”
Technically, both Uranus and Neptune are also classified as “gas giants” like Jupiter and Saturn, but they get an extra classification of their own because of the icy/slushy mix of water, ammonia, and methane that is found underneath the exterior atmospheric layer of mostly hydrogen and helium gas.
The surface of Neptune is not solid; there’s no crust of ice or rock for us to land a ship on or walk on.
The methane in the atmosphere gives the planet its well-known blue color.
Relevant Facts About Human Respiration
Humans need to breathe oxygen to survive.
And not just oxygen, but oxygen in the right amount.
Here on Earth, we humans have adapted and flourished with an atmosphere that is composed of only 21% oxygen.
The remainder of the substance that we breath is mostly nitrogen (78%), which our bodies do nothing with except exhale it out.
There’s also some carbon dioxide, argon, krypton, and other traces of gases.
Humans cannot survive without oxygen.
If the “air” that we breathe does not have enough oxygen in it (even though it might fill up our lungs), we start to feel faint, nauseous, or even lose consciousness.
If the “air” we breathe has too much oxygen, we won’t necessarily pass out quickly or die.
It is common while in hospital for patients to provided breathing air with a higher concentration of oxygen than we’d normally breathe.
But over time, the delicate tissues in our bodies can be permanently damaged from excess oxygen taken in by our lungs, which aren’t very good at expelling the extra oxygen in the air that we don’t really need.
Why Can’t Humans Breathe On Neptune?
The primary and most obvious reason that humans cannot breathe on Neptune is that the “air” in the atmosphere around Neptune doesn’t have oxygen in it.
If there is oxygen, there’s not enough in the atmosphere to support human life.
Now, people like to argue about whether it would be “possible” to take breaths of Neptune’s atmosphere (though it might not necessarily support life).
There are some places where it isn’t possible to take breaths, such on Venus, for example.
The atmosphere of Venus is crushingly dense, and toxic.
On the surface of Venus, the pressure is so significant that a human probably couldn’t even draw a a breathe of the poisonous 800 degrees Fahrenheit hot air.
While the gravity on Neptune is similar to Earth’s, Neptune has some pretty serious atmospheric pressure.
It would be impossible for a human to physically draw in a breathe anywhere near the slushy/icy area of the planet.
it is insanely windy on Neptune, with windspeeds of more than 1,000 miles per hour in stormy areas.
These would also make it impossible to draw breathe.
Finally, it is cold on Neptune, under negative 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Any attempt to actually take in “air” this cold would damage the tissues of the human body, probably resulting in death.
Technically, a human could breathe in air that is a mix of hydrogen and helium (though doing so for more than a few breaths would not be pretty).
But a human probably couldn’t physically breathe in that hydrogen and helium mix in the atmosphere around Neptune, given the extreme cold and pressure.
Another thought: water ice exists on Neptune.
Thus, if we could get to Neptune, and if we could survive the wind and the pressure and the cold, it is possible that breathable oxygen could be made from the water ice.
Did You Know? (Other Facts About Neptune)
Here are some facts you may not have known about Neptune:
- Neptune orbits the sun from more than 2.7 billion miles away. This makes the distance between Earth and the sun (91 million miles) seem really close. To compare, Mercury is about 35 million miles from the sun, Saturn is about 890 million miles from the sun, and dwarf planet Pluto is about 3.7 billion miles away from the sun.
- Neptune revolves on its axis quickly, taking only about 16 Earth hours to spin completely around one time.
- We cannot see Neptune in the sky without some kind of magnifying device (like a telescope).
- It takes Neptune more than 160 Earth years to make one complete trip around the sun. Compare that to Mercury (closest to the sun) which makes the trip in less than 100 Earth days.
- Neptune has rings. The rungs are irregular and clumpy, probably influenced by the proximity of some of Neptune’s moons.
- There’s a big storm on Neptune like there is on Jupiter (the Great Red Spot). Neptune’s storm is called “The Great Dark Spot.” The Great Dark Spot is around the same size as the planet Earth.
- While Neptune is known as a cold and icy planet, it is believed that the interior of the planet is extremely hot (the mantle and core).
- Before Neptune was spotted in an observatory, astronomer Joseph Le Verrier predicted its existence and position using information gathered from his study of the movements of other planets.
Neptune is a fascinating planet, and we look forward to learning more about it as the progress of space exploration continues.
You might also enjoy:
- USVAO Neptune Articles Library
- Can You Walk On Neptune?
- Can You Breathe On Uranus?
- Can You Breathe On Saturn?
- Can You Breathe On Mars?