How Close to the Sun Can You Survive?

With July in full force, it already feels like the Sun's rays are slobbering down our necks. But what if it were closer to us? Say, 90 million miles closer? Popular Science investigates how near we could go and survive.

Even though the life-giving fireball burns at an unfathomable 9,940°F, PopSci notes that its heat fades quickly with distance in space's vacuum, so that even at relatively close range—still 3 million miles away, mind you—one would be met with a balmy 248°F.

How Close to the Sun Can You Survive?

Current spacesuit technology comfortably shields astronauts from temperatures up to this point, but would begin to fail once hapless spacefarers drifted closer. Beyond the 3 million mile mark, "It would then be a matter of time before the astronaut died," explains Ralph McNutt, a NASA engineer who works with advanced heat shielding. Dehydration, unconsciousness, and finally death by heatstroke would be your sizzling demise.

Were you provided the luxury of a space shuttle, you could cruise even closer to the star-a ship covered in the standard reentry heat shielding would provide ample protection up to 4,700°, enough to get you to the intimate 1.3 million mile mark. But beyond this point, the shielding would quickly crumble, turning the ship into a solar rotisserie before exploding altogether within a minute. "I would advise turning away from the sun well before that point," McNutt admits. We agree.

I don't think I will complain about air conditioning for a while. [PopSci]
Image via NASA