Author Topic: Smells in space  (Read 324 times)

Smells in space
« on: June 28, 2020, 10:17:39 pm »
How do we know what space smells like? Electronic sniffing or WHY?
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hellymedic

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Re: Smells in space
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2020, 10:40:43 pm »
I think the sense of smell is dependent on there being an atmosphere of air to carry volatile substances to dissolve in the nose to be sensed.

I don't think this is possible out there.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Smells in space
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2020, 10:58:36 pm »
IIRC astronauts have reported a distinctive smell when opening re-pressurised airlocks.  Presumably that's outgassing from whatever materials have been exposed to vacuum/extreme temperature/sunlight, rather than space itself.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Smells in space
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2020, 09:35:28 am »
In space, no one can hear you sniff.
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Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

Re: Smells in space
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2020, 09:44:42 am »
The Apollo Astronauts reported the moon rock smells like gunpowder, which I think has a fair amount of sulphur in it so various chemicals must intermingle in the vastness of space?
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T42

  • Old fool in a hurry
Re: Smells in space
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2020, 09:51:26 am »
Chemicals will react according to whatever is available to react with, in space or not. IIRC moon rock smelt that way because it was reacting with oxygen in the air.
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ian

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Re: Smells in space
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2020, 12:19:19 pm »
Most things we smell are byproducts of chemical interactions. That distinctive metallic smell you get from handling pennies is the iron and copper reduction of lipids on your skin. The smell people associate with metal isn't actually metal, it's this volatile organic that has a very low detection threshold. Same for the smell of blood, you're not smelling blood or the iron in the haem, it's the breakdown of skin organics caused by a transition metal.

It's possible we're so sensitive to these metal-reduced organics because they let us smell blood, so there's an evolutionary selection pressure (for finding injured or dead dinners).

You could probably smell something in space, but it would be in a very cold vacuum, so you wouldn't have mucous membranes for very long. A fart in a spacesuit, on the other hand, is – I imagine – an olfactory gift that keeps on giving.

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