What Does Space Smell Like?

Photo: Sweetie187

Space: deep, dark, immense…and smelly? Science in a Can sniffs out the tang of space:

Astronauts have consistently reported the same strange odour after lengthy space walks, bringing it back in on their suits, helmets, gloves and tools. It’s bitter, smoky, metallic smell—like seared steak, hot metal and arc welding smoke all rolled into one.

NASA’s even trying to reproduce the smell to use in astronaut training sessions.

In the future, we might even recreate the smell of the moon, Mars, Mercury or any place in the universe, provided we have the right chemical information. In fact, we can even recreate the smell of the heart of the galaxy—astronomers searching for animo acids in Sagittarius B2, a vast dust cloud in the middle of the Milky Way, have reported that due to a substance called ethyl formate, it smells and tastes of raspberries and rum—much more pleasant than seared steak and metal.

Smell is in the nose of the beholder, however. A steak-smelling moon could be quite enticing.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Quirkiest Space Shuttle Science 

What Does Home Smell Like? 

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