Understand why astronauts can’t burp in space

As the human body is poorly adapted to life without gravity, spending a long period of time in space can bring a series of difficulties and limitations to our organism. O Digital Look has already addressed some of these problems, such as the loss of bone density, the “spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome” (SANS) and the effects on the musculature.

Even physiological needs, such as sleeping or going to the bathroom, for example, are affected by the adverse conditions of the space. A curiosity in relation to this is the question of the elimination of gases from the body.

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Former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield inside the International Space Station (ISS) in 2001. He explained why astronauts shouldn’t burp in space. Image: NASA

Can astronauts burp or fart off Earth? Considering that these acts are part of human nature, how to control them?

In 2018, a Twitter user asked former International Space Station (ISS) commander, retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, if the words written on a soda cap were true: “Astronauts can’t burp in space.”

Hadfield confirmed the veracity of the information, explaining the reasons. “You can’t burp in space because the air, food and liquids in your stomach are all floating together like voluminous bubbles. If you burp, you vomit in your mouth. So guess where the trapped air goes?”

That is, astronauts can burp, but it is not recommended due to lack of gravity. Here on Earth, when we have gases trapped in the stomach, they rise to the top because they are lighter than food and gastric juices.

In space, the gas does not rise. It remains mixed with all the other things that are in the stomach (as the video below demonstrates, an ISS experiment that placed an effervescent tablet in colored water). Therefore, if the gas is expelled through the mouth, what comes out is a kind of mixture between burping and vomiting.

“When there’s a burp in space, it’s often a ‘wet burp,’ which means some liquid is expelled,” NASA engineer Robert Frost explained on the online Q&A platform Quora in 2016. “It’s like reflux. acid”.

Read more:

Astronauts’ food should be restricted to avoid gas

The “alternative outlet” of gases also poses problems, as space stations are small, closed environments and, therefore, can get quite stinky.

In the 1960s, scientists conducted experiments to determine which space diet would produce the least flatulence, because farting was considered a hazard in a pressurized cabin.

In fact, there is air circulation on the ISS to prevent astronauts from suffocating on their own CO2 exhalations, so the farts are removed as well. Either way, it’s obviously pretty nasty.

As a result, beans and other high flatulence foods such as cabbage and brussels sprouts have been removed from the space mission menu, although green beans and broccoli are allowed.

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