Last night I was watching a documentary regarding the Apollo space program, and it spoke about how Apollo 8 orbited the moon 10 times then came back to Earth. It said that while the ship was in orbit no one really knew whether the ship would break orbit or continue to orbit the moon where the astronauts would eventually die.

I thought then that at some point in the future NASA would have maybe recovered the ship and returned them home. If they did this I then wondered what would have happened to the astronauts' bodies during this time? Would they decompose like they would do on Earth, or because of the lack of atmosphere would they not decompose?

There are two scenarios to this. The first scenario is that the ship ran out of oxygen and the astronauts died through asphyxiation. The second scenario would have meant that the astronauts were involved in a decompression, so that the astronauts were then in a vacuum.

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    $\begingroup$ They cannot decompose in the sense of biodegradation but depending on the environmental conditions many other chemical reactions might occur which can break down the molecular constituents of the body. Since there are many possible conditions I guess this question qualifies as broad. $\endgroup$
    Mar 16 '16 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ I see your point. But there's only really two environments that they'd be exposed to, one would be carbon dioxide/monoxide rich and the other would be in a vacuum. Both you'd imagine would be extremely cold too. $\endgroup$ Mar 16 '16 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Not exactly answering your question but <a href="what-if.xkcd.com/134/">this</a> is pretty close. $\endgroup$ Mar 17 '16 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ @WhoElse your link leads to a 404 error page $\endgroup$ Mar 19 '16 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Title was really good. You may consider it as A man buried in ice for long. An ice where no bacteria are present. It then needs a forensic expert. $\endgroup$ Mar 19 '16 at 17:29

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