An Indian Civilizational Perspective

How does the space smell?

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. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.

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