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Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Does Space Smell Like?


Happened to see this article on Digg this morning. Its an article from dailymail.co.uk about what space smells like. Sounds weird, doesn't it? Turns out it's a legitimate question, as astronauts often notice particular smells of space as they take off their helmets inside the space station. Some of these include the smell of steak and hot metal. Check out the article here.

24 comments:

trog69 said...

The question just leaped out at me while reading about galaxy clusters, so I typed in the exact words of your post. Weird, huh?

Thanks for the link.

Sean Welton said...

Just had to share this story ;) I came across it while using the StumbleUpon Firefox extension!

October 20, 2008 at 3:50 PM

kayla said...

I had always wondered that myself. That is so crazy but way awesome at the same time, awesome blog site!

trog69 said...

I didn't connect it before, but the smells described by the astronauts, grilled steak and molten metal, makes sense when you consider that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are found throughout the interstellar medium, are mostly made up of soot, like that on a BBQ grill or at a steel mill.

Hey, got it all in one sentence! hehe

Sean Welton said...

That is a good point, much of the similar molecules could be present and just interpreted by our noses as steak and molten steel.

There's also the galaxy high in alcohols. Wonder what that smells like! ;)

Sean

October 21, 2008 at 4:10 PM

trog69 said...

Haha! Well, if it smells anything like the Milky Way bar in Amsterdam...strap yourself in, Major Tom!

Sean Welton said...

Haha, sounds like a good time, although I can't say I've ever been there!

Sean

October 21, 2008 at 5:05 PM

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the astronauts were smelling much of anything - let alone polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - given that, on average, space has about one atom of hydrogen per cubic meter of volume.

trog69 said...

"...given that, on average, space has about one atom of hydrogen per cubic meter of volume."

Astronauts are located in very active section of space, relative to the entire "space" used for averaging.

Sean Welton said...

True, astronauts on the ISS are barely into space. I'd imagine the concentration of matter is quite higher in low Earth orbit.

November 23, 2008 at 10:38 PM

trog69 said...

That's my point, but it would it would still be true, were the ISS anywhere in our solar system, as opposed to halfway to the Magellanic Cloud galaxy, or deep space, which is the vast majority used for averaging ppm.

Anonymous said...

I know this post is old, but I heard somewhere that someone said it smelled like burnt cookies. The astronauts smell it the most after a space walk, when he astronauts first open the airlock to let them back in.

Anonymous said...

I was very curious as to what space smelled like. So I came here. yeah. MLIA

trog69 said...

Here's an article from Space.com titled, What Does Space Smell Like? Different odors than what we've guessed at, according to a couple of astronauts at the ISS.

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090326-sts119-space-smell.html

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! very interesting!!

Anonymous said...

Sells like someone smoking cannabis... mmmmmm

trog69 said...

"S(m)ells like someone smoking cannabis... mmmmmm"

What does my basement have to do with deep space? ;)

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