Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Space No One Can Smell You Scream

I read an interesting article the other day, and I haven't been able to get this topic out of my head since. The article is about how NASA has asked a fragrance company to reproduce the smell of space. What?

My first thought was "space doesn't smell!". My admittedly rudimentary understanding of how the sense of smell works is that molecules from the item with the odor find their way into your nose and alight on your olfactory sensors, which then transmit the odor to your brain. A process that makes me cringe every time I smell poop - basically you have poop in your nose! Yuck. But anyway, space is a vacuum, right? A nothingness. But I guess there are "things" floating around in space (like Earth for example), so I guess it's possible that there are molecules floating around that can transmit odors.

So after I decided that maybe there are things that could cause space to have a "smell", my second thought was "even if space has a smell, no human has ever been exposed directly to the vacuum of space, so how would anyone know what it smells like?". I found an explanation of how space could be smelled here. Apparently astronauts who have operated airlocks after space walks have smelled space in the air within the International Space Station and on the suits of the astronauts who have re-entered the ship. I'll be damned.

So what does space smell like? The first article describes it as a combination of "hot metal, fried steak and the welding of a motorbike". Um, 'kay. The fried steak part kind of freaks me out, but those odors aren't in general unpleasant. So now I can't wait for the "Space" Yankee Candle. OK, maybe not. But I do want to smell it someday. Maybe they'll have a Smell of Space exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum.

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7 Comments:

Blogger paintergirl said...

Space yankee candle. he he!
I hate those candle stores and leave it to yankee to try to imitate space.

I imagine space to smell a little bit like toner and dust on a hot light bulb. Oh wait that's my perfume. Still space could smell like that.

10/20/2008 8:39 AM  
Blogger SJSFalter+ said...

Okay that just sounds wierd but considering the oddness that is human nature Im sure it would sell. Like wild fire for a while anyway. Not sure if I would be one of those proud owners of such a candle but I would probably take my kids to a space exhibit on it. Really? Space smells...interesting.

10/20/2008 11:51 AM  
Blogger m. heart said...

woah. that's fascinating, and something i've never considered...the smell of space. i would imagine it smells like a frigid new england winter day, but now i'm thinking maybe it smells more like an old record player.

10/20/2008 1:43 PM  
Blogger hollibobolli said...

This was freakishly interesting - great post!! I guess I'm a little disappointed, considering the smell of fried meat is so nasty to me it was a leading factor in one of my longtime relationship failures.. or maybe it was just a final meat-straw. I would love to think that space smells like something more mysterious, like sparkling particles from the tip of a pink shooting star.

The whole poop in the nose thing - I frequently gag because of that very fact. GAHHHHH!!!!!

10/21/2008 1:14 PM  
Blogger Vedrana M. said...

maybe space smell will be next fashion thing, haha :)

10/22/2008 9:23 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

I got anxiety just reading that! I cannot handle space talk. My sister makes fun of me, but it freaks me out. Those pictures of Earth that are taken from space? Hellz to the no I will not look at them. I feel the same way about the deep part of the ocean.

10/22/2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger REENblack said...

LOL I'd totally buy a Yankee candle just to say I have space in my house! Well, probably not, but I'd definitely open up the jar to sniff it out!

11/07/2008 2:38 PM  

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