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MissMessier

Smelly Space

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I have heard that space is particularly pungent because it is rich in carbon and low in oxygen, and just like a car, if you starve it of oxygen you start to see black soot and get a foul smell. Oxygen-rich stars, however, have aromas reminiscent of a charcoal grill. Once you leave our galaxy, the smells can get really interesting. In dark pockets of the universe, molecular clouds full of tiny dust particles host a veritable smorgasbord of odours, from wafts of sweet sugar to the rotten-egg stench of sulphur. I remember hearing this from Michael Collins also, during the Apollo 11 mission, post-docking of the LM that he remarked on the smell of burnt insulation wire..and that it was the smell of burnt molecules from solar flares...

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I think the smell of the LM was more down to the fact that the moon dust is still chemically active, with its constituent elements reacting to the temperature difference and increased oxygen levels by giving off that smell.

I think I got that from Chaiken, "Man on the Moon", which is a seriously fantastically readable and informative book about the Apollo missions.

I've often wondered what the rest of space would smell like.

Alan

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We have a few clues as to what space smells like. First of all, there were interviews with astronauts that we were given, when they had been outside and then returned to the space station and were de-suiting and taking off their helmets, they all reported quite particular odours.

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Astronauts reported the distinctive smells when taking off their helmets following space-walks. Apparently what comes across is a smell of 'fried steak', 'hot metal' and even 'welding a motorbike'.

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"Getter" - Like when you used to "pop" old radio valves? :D

You mean you never did that? :p

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