Space Has A Strange Smell
Author: Jessica Grabert
published: 2012-07-22 15:20:53
Since 1958--the year NASA was officially established by President Eisenhower-- American astronauts have learned a lot about the universe surrounding earth. We’ve sent astronauts to the moon, sent them out on manned missions to explore different phenomena in the galaxy, and even set up an international space station. There is one thing the men and women who have managed to fly into space have in common, and it is they all bring back the smell of space with them, a smell that is quite unpleasant.
Astronauts including Thomas Jones have used terms from “acrid smell” to “seared steak” to “welding fumes” to describe the way space comes across to the nose. However, strange, sweet, or unnapealing the smell is, apparently it is our fault the smell comes into being in the first place. There are high-energy particles in space that collide with air in the space station to create an odd scent. The scent may not be dangerous, but NASA really wants its space candidates to understand what they are preparing for.
Because of this, NASA has hired a scent chemist to help acclimate upcoming space travelers to the stench of space. According to The Atlantic, Steve Pearce has been hired to try to recreate the smell on Earth. The man has gotten some help from astronaut descriptions, and is trying to figure out what effect drinking vodka may have on the odor, since vodka is brought on board to be consumed and later sweated out.
We may be able to simulate weightlessness, but so far we have not been able to figure out the science of space odor. Hopefully, Pearce is the man to cross that frontier. We’ll keep you posted.