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Surprising space scents: Moon smells like gunpowder and burnt steak

Surprising space scents: Moon smells like gunpowder and burnt steak Moon smells like gunpowder and burnt steak (Getty Images)

Even though there is no air in space, astronauts say it has unique smells. For example, the moon smells like gunpowder, and some comets have a strong odor like urine, according to People.

People who have been to the moon, like those from the Apollo missions, say it smells like gunpowder and burnt steak.

“Everyone's instant impression of the smell was that of spent gunpowder. Spent gunpowder smell probably was much more implanted in our memories than other comparable odors," says Apollo 17's Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, who landed on the moon in 1972.

Surprising space scents: Moon smells like gunpowder and burnt steakMoon smells like gunpowder and burnt steak (Getty Images)

Astronauts wear helmets, so they don't immediately feel these smells outside their spacecraft. One theory is that oxygen atoms stick to spacesuits during spacewalks, and when they re-enter the spacecraft, they combine to create ozone, giving a metallic scent. The burnt smell may come from compounds found in charred food, which can also “occur routinely in space."

Other places in space that have smells

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, has an atmosphere that can hold smells. However, it's not a place where one can easily enjoy scents because there is no oxygen, and it's extremely cold. If we could somehow smell on Titan, it would stink like gasoline.

This might not be surprising since gasoline is made from crude oil, which is rich in hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are molecules made of hydrogen and carbon atoms, like methane and ethane. Titan's atmosphere is full of these hydrocarbons, creating smog. On Titan's surface, there are lakes and rivers made of liquid hydrocarbons.

Comets, like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, can smell like rotten eggs and urine due to molecules rich in hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. However, these smells aren't concentrated because comets are mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide. A study from 2018 found that Uranus stinks like farts because its upper atmosphere contains hydrogen sulfide.

There is even a space perfume called Eau de Space, with astronauts describing the smell as a mix of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries, and rum. Some gas clouds in space can also smell like alcohol because they contain ethyl alcohol.

Check out also detailed photos of the supernova explosion as NASA, in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), unveiled an X-ray image of a star explosion in the distant reaches of space.

You can also read about how a day passes on Mars, according to NASA.