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I really want to know the consequences of helmet damage during EVA. Recently I watched a movie called "Mission to Mars" in which one of the astronauts sacrifices his life by taking his mask off. His face was badly affected.

Here is the image for reference.

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migrated from Mar 18 '14 at 14:24

This question came from our site for astronomers and astrophysicists.

Don't ever take what's portrayed in a scifi movie as fact. You can use the fingers on one hand to count the number of scifi movies that go out of their way to be faithful to science. "Mission to Mars was not one of them. (Nor was Total Recall.)

Will you die if you take your helmet off in space? Of course. Your brain needs oxygen, as does the rest of your body. Without oxygen, you will go unconscious rather quickly. Then you'll die shortly later. You won't blow up. You won't instantly freeze. You might however get an ugly postmortem sunburn.

From this "Ask an Astrophysicist" page at NASA, Human Body in a Vacuum

You do not explode and your blood does not boil because of the containing effect of your skin and circulatory system. You do not instantly freeze because, although the space environment is typically very cold, heat does not transfer away from a body quickly. Loss of consciousness occurs only after the body has depleted the supply of oxygen in the blood. If your skin is exposed to direct sunlight without any protection from its intense ultraviolet radiation, you can get a very bad sunburn.

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Your cited article is... unappreciative of the severity of decompression sickness. However, it won't happen during EVA due to the countermeasures (breathing a nitrogen-free atmosphere for multiple hours before EVA). The pressure drop when the mostly-flexible suit exits the pressurized spacecraft is more than the pressure left in the suit, and NASA is very aware that pressure drop would cause crippling, likely fatal DCS if nitrogen were still in the blood. So while loss of suit pressure is not so severe, depressurization of the spacecraft would kill even if oxygen masks were available. – Ben Voigt Mar 19 '14 at 22:49
(I'm pretty sure that "blood boiling" is referring to decompression sickness, in which the partial pressure of nitrogen causes it to come out of solution and form bubbles) – Ben Voigt Mar 19 '14 at 22:51
@BenVoigt - Given the portrayals in science fiction movies, I'm pretty sure "blood boiling" in that article refers to "blood boiling", not the bends. – David Hammen Mar 20 '14 at 10:34

There was the Russian astronaut who had to empty his space suit to re-enter his ship on the very first space walk:

As they had with the first satellite and first man in space, the Soviets again stunned the world on March 18, 1965 with the first spacewalk (and the first EVA) performed by Alexey Leonov from the Voskhod 2 spacecraft, for 12 minutes outside the spacecraft. Leonov had no means to control his motion other than pulling on his 50.7-foot (15.5 m) tether. After the flight, he claimed this was easy, but his space suit ballooned from its internal pressure against the vacuum of space, stiffening so much that he could not activate the shutter on his chest-mounted camera

- (in "Development History")

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