There are lots of potential questions we could ask astronauts, but one of the most important ones, apparently, is whether you can propel yourself around in zero-gravity using farts and sneezes.
Well, I have some good news for anyone who’s ever dreamed of doing exactly that.
Mike Massimino is a former astronaut who has ventured outside of our atmosphere a couple of times during his career, to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. He also made history by becoming the first person to tweet from space.
— NASA (@NASA) March 15, 2014
But when he wasn’t on social media or fixing incredibly important equipment, Massimino was apparently making a mental note of the most efficient ways to move about the space craft.
Of course, regular walking was out of the question, given the lack of gravity in space. Astronauts tend to just kind of float around, pulling themselves along with the help of various handles and bars, but in an interview with Gizmodo Massimino admitted that if you try hard enough, it is possible to propel yourself using bodily functions.
The astronaut was asked whether a good sneeze or fart could propel you forwards or backwards, and said that while it was easier said than done, it wasn’t impossible.
Theoretically any propulsion like that could move you, but generally you react to it. Its’s not as propulsive as you would think. But if you’re really still and gave a good sneeze, that would give you a little kick, yes.
While it might be all too tempting to see just how far you could float after letting out a fart, Massimino went on to point out that due to a lack of airflow in space, farts don’t just dissipate.
So if your experiment was made up of a lot of smelly gas, then its likely your fellow crew wouldn’t be impressed, even if you did successfully make it from one end of the ship to another.
The 56-year-old said:
As far as farting, sometimes your diet isn’t the way it should be. You’re a little stuffed up, you might not be able to go to the bathroom, and it leads to more gas. But farts can kind of hang out. There’s not as much airflow as on Earth.
With that in mind, sneezing might be the more appropriate bodily function to use when it comes to propelling yourself around space. Just make sure you’re not sneezing on your fellow astronauts.
But let’s be honest, the majority of us will never get to test it for ourselves, so it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
If you ever find yourself in need of a fun fact, though, I’m sure the knowledge that sneezes can propel you through zero-gravity will come in useful.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.