In "Demon," Tom and Kim go to the surface of a Y class planet, despite the huge risk to humanoid life. Even their suits wear away in the atmosphere shortly after landing.

Could Data survive without a suit, at least for a short time? He doesn't need to breathe, but I wasn't sure if the toxic conditions would affect even him.

After all, Tuvok stated that a probe launched from the ship would incinerate in the planet's upper atmosphere, so obviously it's pretty potent.


He probably couldn't survive

In terms of the toxic atmosphere, we know that it wouldn't affect Data's 'respiratory systems' necessarily:

BASHIR: You're breathing.

DATA: Yes. I do have a functional respiration system. However, its purpose is to maintain thermal control of my internal systems. I am, in fact, capable of functioning for extended periods in a vacuum.

(TNG 'Birthright Pt 1')

So, he can just 'turn off' his breathing it seems. This leads to another matter though - Data SA's the purpose of his 'breathing' is to maintain his internal temperature - if he was subjected to extreme temperatures, he may have complications whilst operating.

Memory Alpha describes a Class Y planet as having the following characteristics:

a toxic atmosphere, surface temperatures exceeding five hundred Kelvin and thermionic radiation discharges.

This is a fairly high temperature, so Data may not be able to function at all. He has implied that his 'breathing' is an important function for temperature regulation - if internal temperature wasn't important, why would ---I--- Dr Soong have made temperature regulation a mechanism?

So, it's quite possible that he simply wouldn't be able to function at all in such temperatures. Modern-day computers require fans to keep them cool and those without them sometimes stop working when they get too hot. The same basic principle probably applies to Data.

As also mentioned in the question itself, the fact that even the EV suits were deteriorating suggests Data may also begin disintegrating. This may just be his skin, but that could lead to contaminants entering his systems.

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    @Praxis how could I resist 😉 – Often Right Mar 5 '16 at 9:58
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    The "Space is Cold" Fallacy strikes again! Yes, Space is indeed Cold. However, the two most efficient temperature regulation mechanisms are Conduction (two bodies touching each other) and Convection (a gas or liquid heating up, thus becoming lighter, rising up, and pulling cool gas or liquid in behind it), both of which don't exist in a vacuum. So, the only way is Radiation (emitting IR light, typically), which is very inefficient. (That's why real-life, non-scifi spacecraft have large radiators and spacesuits have water cooling systems.) So, if Data can function for extended periods of time … – Jörg W Mittag Mar 5 '16 at 11:25
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    … in a vacuum without overheating, then he sure as hell doesn't need a gas coolant system within an atmosphere where convection exists. So, even though space is cold, the problem of getting rid of excess heat in a vacuum is much harder than in an atmosphere. – Jörg W Mittag Mar 5 '16 at 11:26
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    "if internal temperature wasn't important, why would Dr Soong have made temperature regulation a mechanism?" -> Dr Soong and conventional notions of practicality don't really belong in the same sentence. Engineering may have been the midwife, but Data is a child of Art. – user36551 Mar 5 '16 at 13:07
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    @JörgWMittag It depends how long 'extended period' is, and how that is accomplished. Temporary vacuum thermal protection (or for in a hot environment) could be done by either storing heat (by heating/melting a thermal storage material) or by boiling off an expendable cooling material. However when the heat storage material reached its maximum level or the evaporative coolant was entirely used up Data'd overheat and need to shutdown/fail. However neither of those options are suitable for 24/7 use without active maintenance; in which case an aircooled default mode would still be reasonable. – Dan is Fiddling by Firelight Mar 5 '16 at 16:38

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