How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 731

What happens to water in space? — DZ, Illinois
That depends on the water's temperature. At extremely low temperatures, ice remains stable indefinitely. That's why comets that are as old as the solar system have been able to hold on to their water despite having almost no gravity. But at more moderate temperatures, ice and water both slowly lose water molecules. These water molecules evaporate (or sublime, in the case of ice) and drift off into space. Because there's no air pressure in space to prevent evaporation from occurring inside the body of water, water will actually boil at any temperature. That's what boiling is: evaporation into steam bubbles located inside the water. Atmospheric pressure normally smashes these bubbles as long as the water temperature is below 212° F (100° C), but in empty space the bubbles form without opposition at any temperature.

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