What are the Temperatures in Space?

Published on February 05, 2024

How hot or cold does it get in space?

Have you ever wondered what the temperatures are like in space? Space temperatures can be drastically diverse, compared to earth. In this article, we will see how temperatures vary in space.

What is temperature?

Temperature is the measure of heat or cold, in Fahrenheit, Celsius or Kelvin. It refers to the direction in which heat energy will flow spontaneously. Hot objects transfer heat fast and cold objects transfer temperature slowy. When atoms are totally immobile, they are at absolute zero. At that point, the average temperature is 2.7 Kelvin, which tranlates to -454.81 degrees Fahrenheit or -270.45 degrees Celsius. This is the standard temperature in space.

Temperature scales

There are three main temperature scales - Fahrenheit, Celsius and Kelvin. Fahrenheit is used in the USA, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and Marshall Islands. The rest of the world uses Celsius. A few use both Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Kelvin is used by people of science, aka astronomers, physicists, researchers and scientists. They wanted a temperature scale where zero reflects the complete absence of thermal energy. As the temperature gets colder, there are less vibrations in the material to provide these thermal excitations.

Temperature range of -250F to 250F

Retired astronaut Danny Olivas, who has a long list of achievements to his name, wrote about his experience while performing work on the STS-117 during a spacewalk. One hand was exposed to sunlight and the other hand was in shade. The hand in sunlight felt intense heat and the hand in shade registered extreme cold. The temperatures easily be can as high as 250F in sunlight and as low as -250F in shade! That's a huge difference of 500 Fahrenheit!

Astronaut Danny Olivas working on the STS-117. Photo credit: Danny Olivas Astronaut Danny Olivas working on the STS-117. Photo credit: Danny Olivas

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Published on February 05, 2024