The Moon Smells Like Gunpowder

The smell of the Moon is not just the smell of space

Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. stands with the U.S. flag on the lunar surface during the Apollo 12 mission. NASA/Reuters/Corbis

Twelve people have walked on the Moon and all of them agree: the Moon smells like gunpowder.

According to, astronaut Jack Schmitt said: “All I can say is that everyone's instant impression of the smell was that of spent gunpowder, not that it was 'metallic' or 'acrid'. Spent gunpowder smell probably was much more implanted in our memories than other comparable odors.”

Jack Schmitt piloted Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon in 1972.

No astronaut walking on the Moon's surface has ever removed their helmet and taken a whiff. Instead, the smell of the Moon lingers in the dust on their suit and on the rocks brought back to the ship.

Yet the smell of the Moon is not just the smell of space. Space smells rather different, more like steak or metal, says the Atlantic.

The Moon's scent, says Space, is the smell of unstable minerals. While the scent of space it self, says Popular Science, is something else altogether: it's the smell of dead stars.

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