How does the space smell?

Last updated on Feb 11, 2008

Posted on Feb 11, 2008

Had never thought about this one point ever, but what the heck – everything smells.. something is good and somethings real bad.  But what about space?  Space is vacuum.  Does vacuum has any smell?  Ostensibly no.. but what about space?  Space is not just vacuum, it has lots of “stuff” floating around.  Does all that give it any smell?  Find out from the “horse’s nose”, as it were.  It is by ISS Science Officer Don Pettit – who smelt space.

Each time, when I repressed the airlock, opened the hatch and welcomed two tired workers inside, a peculiar odor tickled my olfactory senses. At first I couldn’t quite place it. It must have come from the air ducts that re-pressed the compartment. Then I noticed that this smell was on their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools. It was more pronounced on fabrics than on metal or plastic surfaces. It is hard to describe this smell; it is definitely not the olfactory equivalent to describing the palette sensations of some new food as “tastes like chicken.” The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. In fact, it smelt like welding fumes. How do I know that smell? Well, let me take you back to my college days. In search of extra money, my college summers were spent labouring for many hours, at first just carrying repaired heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. The equipment was repaired by being welded, and the metallic smell was always present in the air. Then, after a few weeks of work, I was allowed to use An awesome Tig Torch myself. I will never forget that day, and I will never forget the intense smell of the welding. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.

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