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hexadumo t1_j3dt9by wrote

It smells like burned metal. According to astronauts. And before you ask: they can smell it in the airlock after a space walk.


emilycellocat t1_j3dy4mo wrote

Why does it smell like this? Is it from our spaceships, or is it the smell of stars combusting?


hexadumo t1_j3dz0l5 wrote

From popular science:

“Louis Allamandola, director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center, told Popular Science that this smell is due to the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons floating around in space.

These hydrocarbons can be found in "tobacco smoke, car exhaust, and sometimes in heavily browned foods," here on Earth, according to chemist Kevin Boudreaux from Angelo State University.”

Edit: I just read some more about it and an alternate explanation is that the random elements floating in space are reacting to the oxygen pumped into the airlock. They are oxidizing quickly and therefore smell like burned metal.