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Outer Space has a Smell

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the anosmia-sucks-in-space-too dept.

Space 274

repapetilto writes "ISS Science Officer Don Pettit reports in his journal that outer space gives off a smell best described as "a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation." Kind of odd considering smell is supposed to be due to volatilized chemical compounds."

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Take a big wiff (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406116)

Too bad the vacuum of space will suck that smell right out of your nose.

Re:Take a big wiff (3, Informative)

halivar (535827) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406326)

Are you sure? I think this calls for an empirical test. Stick your head out the window and check.

Re:Take a big wiff (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406406)

I guess the right thing to say here is "That's one smell that will make your head explode".

Implied Lisa? (0)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406662)

I think you meant implode.

Re:Implied Lisa? (2, Informative)

MouseR (3264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406782)

No, I think he means explode. You cant implode if there's negative outside pressure.

Re:Implied Lisa? (5, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406930)

Perhaps he was implying that the OP's brain was more empty than the vastness of space

Re:Implied Lisa? (1)

Hawkeye05 (1056362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407028)

I'm Pretty Sure It Would Asplode, yeah in space no one can hear you scream and things Asplode.

Re:Take a big wiff (3, Informative)

SterlingSylver (1122973) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406806)

No explosions, according to Cecil: http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_147.html [straightdope.com]

You'd even have a few seconds of useful consciousness to take a whiff and stick your head back in!

Re:Take a big wiff (2, Funny)

RackinFrackin (152232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406442)

Yeah. Shouldn't it smell like blood?

Re:Take a big wiff (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406552)

I'd consider blood to have a "sweet metallic" sort of smell to it...

Re:Take a big wiff (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406650)

Just as long as that is the only oriface that gets vacuumed out.

Re:Take a big wiff (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406992)

You just gave me a stellar idea for a highly expensive cure for chronic constipation *plot*

Re:Take a big wiff (2, Funny)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406920)

The smell of outer space is "Silent but Deadly".

Obligatory Star Trek Reference (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406980)

Kirk: "How close will we come to the closest Klingon outpost if we continue on our present course."

Chekov: "One parsec sir. Close enough to smell them."

Spock: "That is illogical, ensign. Oders cannot travel through the vacuum of space."

http://www.badmovies.org/tvshows/startrek/tribbles/tribbles1.wav [badmovies.org] (135 KB)

Re:Take a big wiff (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407140)

Or we could just build a Smelascope to check the scents of space safely.

At least that's what they did on Futurama.

Sounds Like Ozone (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406126)

When I was younger, I also arc wielded to fix various metal things around farms. I too noticed this sweet, metallic smell.

When I was a teenager I read a lot of short stories. Especially all the sci-fi & horror ones like Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick or Stephen King. I don't recall which one it was but a character had a train set that had a short in it on the tracks. The arcing electricity would give off this same smell. I learned through this short story that this is an incidental way to produce ozone (O3) [wikipedia.org] , a greenhouse gas. And that the smell is in fact a low amount of ozone. Perhaps you've detected it at the dentists office or while operating an engine? From the Wikipedia entry:

Ozone may be formed from O2 by electrical discharges and by action of high energy electromagnetic radiation. Certain electrical equipment generate significant levels of ozone. This is especially true of devices using high voltages, such as ionic air purifiers, laser printers, photocopiers, and arc welders. Electric motors using brushes can generate ozone from repeated sparking inside the unit. Large motors that use brushes, such as those used by elevators or hydraulic pumps, will generate more ozone than smaller motors.
I hope he doesn't write himself off as crazy if he did detect ozone. Or at least investigate where it could have come from. If there's tiny molecules of ozone floating around in orbit of the earth, I'm certain that would be scientifically interesting. Perhaps he should test the properties of these materials when exposed to ozone, do they attract the molecules? Or perhaps he should put the materials in a vacuum here on earth for a bit and then pull them out and see if he detects the same smell?

The human nose can be an extremely strong tool for some individuals, perhaps this is more than just psychosomatic? It would drive me crazy to never investigate this if I were in his shoes. It may seem trivial but sometimes a peculiar notion is what drives scientists make a novel discovery ... or waste lots and lots of time.

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406304)

If there's tiny molecules of ozone floating around in orbit of the earth, I'm certain that would be scientifically interesting.

Indeed. I'm sure scientists would be astounded to discover that there is a "layer" around the Earth comprised of "ozone".

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (4, Funny)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406538)

Indeed. I'm sure scientists would be astounded to discover that there is a "layer" around the Earth comprised of "ozone".
*Gasp* This greenhouse gas layer must be destroyed to prevent global warming!

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

snoyberg (787126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406656)

Indeed. I'm sure scientists would be astounded to discover that there is a "layer" around the Earth comprised of "ozone".
*Gasp* This greenhouse gas layer must be destroyed to prevent global warming!

Don't worry, I'm already working on it. ::sprays on deodorant::

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (2, Funny)

thegermanpolice (1194811) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407090)

Don't worry, I'm already working on it. ::sprays on deodorant::
Wow a geek using deodorant!

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406320)

"perhaps this is more than just psychosomatic?"

I would imagine so - even if somehow you were able to "smell" a complete vacuum, your own body (including the nasal passages themselves) will be giving off odors. If they are so subtle as to normally be overwhelmed by the usual natural background, that may be your first chance to detect them.

Based on all the sweaty hero-in-space-attacking-monolithic-fortress-of-evil-guy footage, however, I predict that most of the time space is rather sweaty and disgusting.

Unless she's Number Six, in which case space is sweaty and sexy...

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (5, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406330)

That smell is also really bad for you. The Ozone oxidizes the inside of your nose and throat. If you breathe in a large quantity, you'll get a sore throat fairly quickly, and can die after several minutes in a room with a high concentration.

I have a commercial ozone generator that I bought to use after my basement flooded to kill the mold. I had it on a timer for a while to run for an hour at night. Power went out, the timer got offset, and I went down there during the day while it was on. One lungful and I had a sore throat for a week.

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406366)

Lucky not to have permanent lung damage; that shit's like a suntan for your lungs. Have you gotten a lung capacity test?

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406542)

Lucky not to have permanent lung damage; that shit's like a suntan for your lungs. Have you gotten a lung capacity test?
Yeah, I heard he got one from his boss right before his last promotion. It's ok though, his boss told him that his lung capacity was 'euphorically good.'

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

Hawkeye05 (1056362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407114)

Oh Come on it was unfounded, and Troll like but damn it if you didn't laugh then you have problems.

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406734)

Not to mention that it stinks. I don't know about you, but I can't stand the smell of ozone, not even a tiny bit.

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (4, Insightful)

gwait (179005) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406376)

Since there's an awful lot of charged particles, micrometeorites, and high energy photons bathing the astronauts while on a space walk,
perhaps the smell is coming from all the ionized molecules on their suits and gear.

Also, the space station is not entirely out of the atmosphere, is it? Isn't the top layer a lot of ionized gas as well - due to the same radiation sources?

It would be interesting to compare the molecules per cubic meter in the ISS airlock with the number of molecules per cubic meter a human nose can detect..

I hope he does continue to research this curiosity!

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (2, Interesting)

tenco (773732) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407020)

Since there's an awful lot of charged particles, micrometeorites, and high energy photons bathing the astronauts while on a space walk, perhaps the smell is coming from all the ionized molecules on their suits and gear.

Origin of Ozone in the Ozone layer [wikipedia.org]

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (4, Funny)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406504)

If there's tiny molecules of ozone floating around in orbit of the earth, I'm certain that would be scientifically interesting.

Ozone... around the Earth?

You mean like some kind of... layer?

(Yes, I know, I know. Couldn't help it. :P)

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

tgatliff (311583) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407142)

OK.. Let me get this straight. After over 40 years in space this is the first guy to bring this up?? Hm... Smells fishy if you ask me..

ah, fond memories... (1)

airdrummer (547536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406544)

electric trains @ xmas...ozone always takes me back;-)

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406642)

Ever notice that "sweet smell" after a thunderstorm? Lightning arcing through the atmosphere also produces ozone.

Re:Sounds Like Ozone (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406952)

You're correct! O3 can be generated by electrical discharge. Have you ever wondered why there is a sweet smell in the air after a spring thunderstorm? It's because the lightning has created O3 in the air!

Being struck down by Zeus never smelled so good!

Good news, everyone! (5, Funny)

El Yanqui (1111145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406144)

Professor Farnsworth already proved it with the Smell-O-Scope.

local sources... (4, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406188)

Professor Hubert Farnsworth: I'm afraid the Smelloscope can't locate Bender. His fragrance is too mild. It's being overwhelmed by local sources.
[Everyone looks at Zoidberg]
Dr. Zoidberg: Hooray! Now I'm the center of attention.

Re:Good news, everyone! (4, Funny)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406202)

And in a damning indictment of the US patent office, prior art will be established in 1000 years.

Oblig Futurama (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406148)

Don Pettit: The guy from whom Prof Farnsworth stole the plans to the smelloscope.

smelloscope (3, Funny)

GreatRedShark (880833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406180)

So does this mean the Professor's smelloscope could one day be a reality? Gee, I'd hate to small Uranus.

don't worry (3, Funny)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406254)

It will soon be renamed Urectum.

Re:don't worry (2, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406572)

Wrecked him? It damned near killed him!

Re:smelloscope (3, Funny)

andphi (899406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406260)

Until, of course, the planet's name is changed to do away with the joke.

Re:smelloscope (4, Funny)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406568)

Until, of course, the planet's name is changed to do away with the joke.

Maybe in the future, Uranus and Pluto will just be referred to by the phrase, "and the rest", like the professor and Mary Anne from Gilligan's Island.

outgassing of materials (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406186)

It is not 'space' one smells, but the gas from materials when exposed to high vacuum.
 

thank you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406402)

captain obvious

Re:outgassing of materials (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406720)

Outer Space has a Smell

It is not 'space' one smells, but the gas from materials when exposed to high vacuum.
Dammit, I told you not to play "Pull my finger" while wearing a space suit!

Houston, we have a problem. Send up some Bean-O.

Wasn't me (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406986)

I didn't fart. Maybe you're smelling the vacuum of space?

Is he really smelling outer space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406210)

Or is he smelling the result of the space suits and other materials being subjected to solar wind and other particles. I suspect ozone and other metallic oxides might be the result.

Prof. Farnsworth's a genius! (0, Redundant)

Ost316 (1035874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406212)

I say it's time to build a Futurama-style Smelloscope.

Maybe, maybe not.... (1)

rocjoe71 (545053) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406220)

Try a little less Old Spice before putting on the spacesuit...

That's nothing compared to... (2, Funny)

unbug (1188963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406242)

...the inner space. Now that smells really weird!

I hear (2, Funny)

pedropolis (928836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406276)

The outer rim of Uranus also has a smell. It's described variously as a musky, pungent, zesty enterprise, with a splash of sulfur, that causes dizziness and nausea.

And now... ladies and gentlemen... Carrot Top!!!

Re:I hear (2, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406480)

Nah, that's Austrian wine.

Nah, that's just Scotty's aftershave... (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406278)

It drives the nurses wild on NCC-1701.

Re:Nah, that's just Scotty's aftershave... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406336)

It IS a rather large car, but I doubt there would be room for an entire hospital. http://dcjensen.spymac.com/heroes/heroes-ncc1701.jpg [spymac.com]

smell (1)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406294)

maybe astronauts just have pleasant, metallic BO

In Space... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406300)

In Space, Nobody Can Smell Your Fart!

Huh? (3, Insightful)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406302)

I'd hope our space travelers would have a skosh better grasp of physics. The vacuum of near space is darn good, certainly lower than the vapor pressure of most anything we loft into space. Experience with evacuating radio and TV tubes says you can get up to 500 cm^3 of gas out of every few square inches of metal. I would not be surprised if he's smelling the outgassing of items from our earthly spehere, not the "smell of space".

Re:Huh? (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406432)

Exactly. He's smelling the effects of the exposing the suit chemicals to vacuum. This story is really stupid.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406646)

Exactly, the smell is the smell of spacesuits that were exposed to near vacuum. The chance of him smelling anything that was actually IN space is near zero, as it would be overwhelmed by the suit smell. This guy is a ISS Science Officer? Sounds like a bad title if his understanding of smell is so whacked. Hope he is not in charge of any scientic experiments up there, any results would be questionable.

Re:Huh? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406550)

That's only true for taking momentary volumetric number of particles - but they aren't stationary, they travel at a very high speed. Particles carried by solar wind may be that rare but they can be caught up in the suits - the suits get exposed to lots of the 'void matter'.

Just like during sand storm, a cubic meter of air may contain a handful of sand at any time, but capture all sand that passes through a trap a square meter big carried by a 100km/h wind, and you'll have tons of it in no time.

Besides, these particles are usually charged ions. Free ions tend to be very reactive, meaning they have very strong smell.

Re:Huh? (3, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406910)

Experience with evacuating radio and TV tubes says you can get up to 500 cm^3 of gas out of every few square inches of metal.
Bravo! Not only mixing imperial and metric but areas and volume to boot!

Sir, I take my hat off to you.

Space Smells? (1)

Mickyfin613 (1192879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406310)

I blame Astro. [gpslodge.com] .

doez it haz a flavor??? (2, Funny)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406334)

n/t

Gravitons and Graveoles (1)

bonkeydcow (1186443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406348)

Therefore, by process of elimination the universe must smell like Grape-Aid.

Re:Gravitons and Graveoles (1)

kimanaw (795600) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406618)

Therefore, by process of elimination the universe must smell like Grape-Aid.
Hmmm..I heard the ISS smells due to a process of elimination.

I'd say... (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406350)

...it's not "the smell of space" but the smell of something that's just been in space. Most organic substances have some volatile compounds in them, and as soon as something is manufactured, the volatiles near the surface begin evaporating; before long, the surface is odorless. Now put it in vacuum, and the volatiles in the interior begin diffusing toward the region of zero pressure, passing through the surface on the way -- so the surface winds up having its volatile concentration restored.

rj

Radiological Dust (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406388)

So is his nose gonna fall off or grow to the size of Mt. Rushmore?

Odd? What's Odd? (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406450)

It may be shocking to some, but some VERY not-so-good-for-you solvents give off strange and oddly pleasing smells.

I clearly remember using trichlorethelene(sp?) as a teenager working on cars and remember the smell being not-so-bad. (Don't ask how we got it.) Automobile coolant is another one. Grease car owners also have the pleasure of french fries smell.

Burning auto brakes is gross though.

Well, that makes for a good sci fi book title (2, Funny)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406454)

"The Sweet Smell of Space" sounds like something Heinlein would have written.

Re:Well, that makes for a good sci fi book title (1, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406682)

from Amazon.com [amazon.com] :Starfighters of Adumar (Star Wars: X-Wing, Book 9)

Funniest SW Book Ever, October 18, 2001
By Handofthrawn "handofthrawn45" (Cleveland, OH) - See all my reviews

Ah, the sweet smell of space combat and politics mixed with witty banter. While this is by no means the best SW book ever written, it's certainly a very enjoyable read. I've been a big fan of the X-wing series and both Stackpole and Allston. The book starts off on a very nice note: Wedge breaks up with Qwi. Ahh.... Allston must have joined the Stackpole-Zahn pact to rid the world of SW novels from all of the terrible relartionships Anderson thought up in his books.

Re:Well, that makes for a good sci fi book title (1)

CaptainMunchies (458558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407124)

It seems you have the reading comprehension of a modern christian.

Propellants from Shuttle and Soyuz? (2, Insightful)

_bug_ (112702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406466)

What's the likelihood this smell comes from propellants used by the shuttle and soyuz? Seems to me since his only interaction with this smell is from spacesuits that have only had contact with the "air" around the outside of the ISS.

Smell isn't caused by chemicals in the air (4, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406540)

Smell is caused by chemicals in the air triggering olfactory receptors in our sense organs and causing sense data to be interpreted by the brain as an odor.

If you take away the sense data, the brain is still interpreting something, namely the absence of data. It could be that this odor is simply how the brain handles a null dataset.

Re:Smell isn't caused by chemicals in the air (2, Interesting)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406680)

Yeah. I was thinking, after reading the title of TFA, that it was the reverse/absence of smell he was detecting. Don't try this at home, but if you clean your bathroom with a too high concentration of bleach, and it starts to hurt a little... when you leave the room (house, neighborhood) to get out of that awful smell, you will notice what i believe is the "negative smell" of bleach. And if you thought bleach was bad, omg, this "smell" which is just the interpretation in reverse is really really bad. I could be wrong on this... but I was assuming my smell sensors were doing what your eyes and other sense organs do with a constant strong stimulus. You know, like when you stare at a blue wall for a while, then look at a white wall, you see the opposite of blue (orange). I forget the name of this and am out of time to look it up.

Re:Smell isn't caused by chemicals in the air (1)

bencollier (1156337) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406938)

That would make a lot of sense (pun not intended) and be fairly interesting - LSD apparently works by reducing the brain's sensitivity to inputs from the outside world (the psychedelic effects come from the brain trying to 'fill in the blanks'), and can make things taste metallic. Perhaps the same mechanism is at work?

Things IN space have a smell... (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406562)

Perhaps the 'smell' wasnt that of space at all. The description of the 'smell' was one of being metallic, and noticing it while around the airlock.

Could this smell instead be from the materials that are coming in and out of spacecrew cabin. In space there will be more intense radiation and temperature extremes, which will affect the materials in question. Being bombarded by the radiation of outer space, that is normally blocked by the minimum shielding of the crew cabin, might just be enough to 'vaporize' certain chemicals on the suit. Upon coming back into the crew cabin, these newly formed chemical compounds with then be able to disperse in the air where they can be picked up as a 'smell'.

If I pull a rotting corpse out of the river, does it logically follow that the river smells like a rotting corpse?

.02

Borat Says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406574)

There is a smell... it smells like a shit.

It makes me wonder if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406592)

The begining of the universe started with the phrase "You are about to experience chaos"...

Nothing like the smell on ISS (2, Interesting)

untree (851145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406712)

Slightly offtopic, but I've heard that the air filters on ISS only scrub harmful CO2, CO, etc., but plenty of other odors persist, making you almost vomit when you first open the hatch. Of course you get used to it after a bit, but can you imagine being one of those tourists who paid $25+ million to spend a week in a fart tank?

You know what they say... (1)

FirstTimeCaller (521493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406714)

He who smelt it, dealt it.

pehaps it is not the smell of space (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406724)

but rather space is reacting with the materials the space suits are made of.
Perhaps the effects of unfiltered solar radiation, cosmic rays, etc cause
the suit materials to outgas some odor due to a change in the materials they are
made of.

that's not the smell of space ... (0)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406738)

Darth Vader just farted!

Re:that's not the smell of space ... (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406870)

"I sense a great disturbance in the force....."

"OH GOD! It smells like ozone, burned flesh, and Thai food!"

I love the smell of space (1)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406784)

I love the smell of space in the morning. It smells like ... victory.

obligatory 2001 (2, Funny)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406790)

"Oh my God, it smells like stars!"

LOLspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406792)

space can has a flavur, 2?

Title of post sounded familiar (1)

rukidding (931503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406798)

Outer Space has a Smell

That's what an old manager of mine would say whenever he walked into our development lab.

...I think it was a management joke about engineers.

It does make sense that space would have a smell (1)

eclectic_hermit (1232884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406834)

Everyone keeps saying that there is nothing to smell, but clearly this man has found a way to smell "Dark matter". Also, is it me, or is it not kinda funny that the "Dark energy" of the universe IS ripping the universe apart at an expodential rate...

yes, I am trying to be humorous....

.

P.S. Am I the only one that feels that "dark matter" and "dark energy", which (allegedly) comprise (*)%95 of the universe is a really weak arguement that was created to cover for the fallacies found within the big bang theory? Seriously??

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy [wikipedia.org]

This kinda makes sense (1)

Ynsats (922697) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406842)

The author of the article describes the "smell" and relates it to certain kinds of welding.

Most of the welding I have done that has a "sweet, metallic smell" has been done with a gas welder. Flux welding stinks something awful! But the gases, depending on what gases are used, can have a very pleasant smell. You have to watch it though 'cause as nice as it might smell, it'll still make you woozie and probably causes dain bramage.

But the smell comes from the oxidation of the metal used in the welder and the super heated gases used to insulate the welding from the atmosphere. Most of the gases used in welding are found in space in very minute amounts but they are there. The Sun is also made up of a portion of various minerals and metals used in welding like iron, carbon, chromium, nickel, oxygen and silicon. If the sun is pumping out all kinds of stuff like that at extreme heat levels, it makes sense that it would cause space to have a "smell" similar to gas welding fumes.

Smell of Spacecraft (1)

pjobs (1230546) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406882)

That was the smell of the spacecraft, not the smell of space. It makes perfect sense since the spacecraft is made of metal welded together. This is a stupid article not worthly of Slashdot.

And in a potentially related news story.. (1)

Aquineas (922102) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406888)

"..scientists from the CDC in Atlanta have been desperately trying to isolate the source of the rapidly mutating virus, and are attempting to round up anyone and everyone that's been in contact with former ISS officer Don Petitt... The virus seems to be unlike any other virus found on Earth. If you have been in contact with Mr. Petitt, any member of his family, or especially his dog Astro, please contact CDC officials immediately..."

So space does have a terrible secret!!! (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406900)

What could be making that smell?

E03

A more down to earth answer... (3, Informative)

ms3e (1144199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22406916)

While it's intellectually fanciful to believe this is the "smell of outer space", what this guy is smelling is the odor of the compressed air used to re-pressurize the airlock, or more exactly, the smell of the inside of the metalic containers and pumps for the storage of the compressed air which the air picked up when contained under pressure before being introduced into the airlock. Take a whiff of compressed air from an air compressor or air tank... hmm, smells like space (apparently).

Re:A more down to earth answer... (1)

Headw1nd (829599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407148)

Why, you might have hit on something there. I'm sure this man, trained as an ASTRONAUT, would have no experience with compressed air, and thus would be completely unfamiliar with its odor.

moD up (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22406956)

PrivaTe sex party my 3alling. Now I

Hydroponics will fix that (1)

TheHawke (237817) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407070)

They'll be cheering when the first hydroponic garden gets installed at the station, dispersing the metallic tang of recycled air with fresh air processed by plants.

Smells like Teen Spirit (1)

elysiana (1152995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407108)

I'm pretty sure this article ran earlier, right? Something about finding methane on another planet?

They claimed that it suggests biochemical processes are occurring, but I say it just proves the existence of beans elsewhere in the universe. Now they're saying there's a smell? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that!

Easy to reproduce or falsify (1)

Futaba-chan (541818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22407110)

Vacuum is vacuum, right? Presumably, this particular odor should also appear on items that have been in a vacuum chamber, shouldn't it? For that matter, the fragments of a broken light bulb or vacuum tube should have the scent....
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