Outer space smells like gun powder...would you want the experience?

United States
September 6, 2009 11:43am CST
Hi people. I read an interesting article this morning about a novice astronaut and his first journey into outer space. He said when he was outside the spaceship, the thing he noticed most was a certain tang in the atmosphere that resembled gun powder or sulphur...um, not particularly my favorites. But gunpoweder smells aside, if you ever had the opportunity to go into outer space and do what the astronauts do, would you? I believe I would, just for the experience...just to satisfy my curiosity about it. Karen
7 people like this
18 responses
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
6 Sep 09
Are you sure? I always thought it was supposed to smell like coconuts! I'd LOVE to travel into space even if it was just far enough to experience weightlessness. It must be such an awe inspiring thing to do and it must really put things into perspective to see the planet Earth as a floating ball surrounded by nothingness!
2 people like this
@jb78000 (15173)
6 Sep 09
are you confusing outerspace with tropical beaches? easy to do i suppose
2 people like this
@James72 (26829)
• Australia
6 Sep 09
I ALWAYS do that! Thanks for setting me straight, I needed it! It's a good thing I don't work for NASA yes?
1 person likes this
@jb78000 (15173)
6 Sep 09
maybe not. astronauts might have a far easier time of it.
1 person likes this
@jb78000 (15173)
6 Sep 09
he must have been smelling the inside of his spacesuit, through why there would be gunpowder in there is anyone's guess...anyway i really don't know, the experience would be worth having but it might be quite tramatic.
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@James72 (26829)
• Australia
6 Sep 09
Calvin Klein haven't brought out any new gunpowder themed fragrances have they? "Musket - by CK"
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@James72 (26829)
• Australia
6 Sep 09
More bang for your buck? Wear CK's Musket and you'll have women rifling through your pants in no time!
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@jb78000 (15173)
6 Sep 09
it's a winner. the puns sorry possibilities are endless with it.
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@owlwings (39751)
• Cambridge, England
6 Sep 09
Since there is NO atmosphere in outer space, he was either smelling the air that was being supplied to his space suit or imagining things! Personally, I love the smell of fireworks and gunpowder but only because it reminds me of the excitement of November 5th - Guy Fawkes Day - with the bonfires and parties and crisp autumn nights. Yes, I'd certainly jump at the opportunity to go into space and get outside the spaceship. I'd hate the cramped conditions of the spaceship but give anything for a chance to walk/swim/float outside.
2 people like this
• United States
7 Sep 09
Hm, that is an interesting fact. I wonder if it was something he was smelling from the ship? Or his suit? Strange. But I'd definitely go! Karen
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hello Owl and Lamb...below is the address to NASA and the govts. official site that should explain about the "smell." http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/crew/exp6/spacechronicles4.html
@owlwings (39751)
• Cambridge, England
10 Sep 09
Thanks, Lamb and Peaceful, for those links. I see now what people mean by 'the smell of space' and, now I see it described, I know just what it smells like. I'm also fairly sure what causes it. As you probably know from elementary science classes at school, if you have a flask of water and reduce the pressure in it to a near vacuum, the water will boil at room temperature. The state of 'boiling' is really nothing more than the ability for molecules to break free of the substance they belong to and become gas, and this happens at different temperatures for different substances depending on the atmospheric pressure. In space, there is negligible atmospheric pressure, so anything (and everything) under those conditions will lose some molecules. Not everything will 'boil', of course, as a liquid will and solids (such as metal and fabric) will not necessarily liquefy and boil in the conventional sense but they will still lose some molecules from the surface. In fact, this happens to a small extent - and for slightly different reasons - even at normal temperature and pressure (that is, in air) and that is why some things (even metals) have a characteristic smell. My guess is that, when an astronaut enters the air lock, the space suit (and the inside of the airlock) will be losing molecules to the 'atmosphere' in this way and when the airlock is repressurised, not all of these free molecules will immediately return to the substance that gave them off (just as water vapour won't immediately return to the water once the pressure is restored). So the smell is actually the true smell of the aluminium, fabric, plastic, rubber or whatever from the free molecules which are still floating around close to the suit in the newly restored atmosphere. As, perhaps, you know, the molecular gas oxygen is composed of TWO atoms of oxygen bonded in pairs (that's why its chemical symbol is O2), whereas ozone is a gas composed of single free oxygen atoms (and its symbol is simply O). A molecule of oxygen can be split into two molecules of ozone by the action of ultraviolet light and this happens mostly very high in the Earth's atmosphere but also, to a lesser extent, closer to the surface wherever ultraviolet radiation (from the sun) is high and it is one of the things that contributes to the 'smell of the sea' and also to the 'smell' of a storm (electrical discharge, such as lightning, can also break down oxygen into ozone). We 'smell' it because those lonely atoms are constantly looking for a partner to bond with and, when they enter our nose, some of them bond with molecules in the nerve endings responsible for our sense of smell and cause a characteristic sensation, which we call the 'smell of ozone'. My hypothesis, therefore, is that a combination of zero pressure and strong ultraviolet radiation in space causes everything that goes into that environment to lose molecules (by 'boiling') and free atoms (by ionization due to ultraviolet and other radiation) and that the remnants of these gases still clinging to the space suits is what people call 'the smell of space'.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Sep 09
I have on more than one occasion told my husband that if I had the chance to go into space...even if I didn't have a ticket back...I would. My entire life has consisted of wishing and hoping that one day I could see space for myself...experience more than three dimensions...do a fly by of Venus or Neptune. In elementary school (and all the years in school following), I'd get passes out of class so I could go to the library and study astronomy just because I was absolutely fascinated. By the time I took astronomy in high school, I actually corrected the teacher on a number of things and even was the one to explain to the class why, if the moon rotates, we still only see one side of it. I would want the experience not just because of my fascination but because something is so strong within me to see something other than Earth. I go onto space.com a lot and read articles and look at the space pictures...and I feel an undeniable pull on me to BE there, not just look at it through a picture. If I had the chance to get the first rocket out of here I would be gone in a flash. It would be life altering for me.
2 people like this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi LovingLife. I do imagine that the experience would be life-altering for anyone! Like you, the sky and outer space has always fascinated me. It looks quite near at times, the moon for instance, and yet is so very far away. How wonderful it would be to see the other planets up close or to walk on the moon, and view earth from there. I imagine that sometime in the future, ordinary people traveling to outer space will become an affordable reality. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm! Karen
@wolfie34 (26793)
• United Kingdom
6 Sep 09
Hi Karen, I admire you for your inquisitive nature and sense of adventure, something that I lack, I wouldn't want to experience exploring spare or donning a spacesuit. I like my feet on solid terra firma, I won't even go on a ferris wheel or go up in a hot air balloon or balloon tethered by steel. Maybe it's my fear of heights. I do however think there is life out in outer space and that does interest me, although I am not in a great hurry to meet extraterrestrial life. But we can't be the only ones out there, surely! Mind you Earth is still pretty primative and we haven't really advanced that much that aliens probably give us a wide berth and besides if there are aliens they'd be too afraid of us, we'd shoot them out of the sky first then experiment on them. Sorry to digress away from your discussion but I do get carried away at times!
• United States
9 Sep 09
Good morning, Wolfie. Yup, fear of heights would be a detriment to wishing to travel into outer space! I also have imagined that there are probably life forms other than we human beings here on earth. Although it would be scary meeting an alien (the unknown and such), it would be interesting to learn about one. Never mind digressions lol. For me, that is a normal part of most discussions...one thing leading to another. Enjoy the day! Karen
• India
6 Sep 09
Hello how nice it will be to go to the outer space and come back. Today I was watching a TV show in which some scientist was also honoured. He told that as on today journey to space will cost about 20 million dollars. But in about 10 to 15 years it will become affordabe. Such a great news for those who want to visit space I want the space to have smell of flowers. Just like a space garden
2 people like this
• United States
6 Sep 09
I was watching them talk about it on tv and they said that its really adhesive and so fine that its a pain because it can get over EVERYTHING and because its abrasive with sharp edges like glass (they say theirs nothing to soften the edges of the fine particles) it sounds like to me that its a lot like asbestos would be. I do remember them saying that there is really good use for it here if they could just get it to Earth in large amounts but I cant remember exactly what for. I think its so fine even that if they were to try to brush if off their spacesuits it would just brush right into any pores on the suit! I'll have to go back and try to find what they wanted to use it for here on earth.
@ANTIQUELADY (36488)
• United States
6 Sep 09
Heavens no, going to keep these right here in TENNESSEE.
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Sep 09
Aww, c'mon Jo. We'll just make it a very short visit...do some sight seeing, and be back in time for dinner lol. Those ships do travel oh so fast. By the way, TN is very beautiful! I've been there a number of times. Hugs, Karen
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@ANTIQUELADY (36488)
• United States
8 Sep 09
NOPE, NOT GOING,LOL. U GO & THEN TELL ME ABOUT IT. I'm glad u like TENNESSEE i do to.
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• United States
9 Sep 09
LOL, I can do that! And yes, TN is so very beautiful. I love the Smokies!
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@barehugs (8986)
• Canada
7 Sep 09
Well first off- there is no air in space. In fact its a vacuum. Now you tell me how anyone could smell anything in a vacuum without any air? Secondly there is no such thing as a novice astronaut. Astronauts train for years (not months) and after training for Years, how could anyone be classed as a novice astronaut? This guy was pulling your leg! When an astronaut does a space walk he's all dressed up in his space suit and he is breathing oxygen from a canister on the back of his suit. How could he possibly smell anything outside that impervious space suit?
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Here you go...it is from NASA and govts. official site. http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/crew/exp6/spacechronicles4.html Expedition Six Space Chronicles #4 By: ISS Science Officer Don Pettit The Smell of Space Few people have experienced traveling into space. Even fewer have experienced the smell of space. Now this sounds strange, that a vacuum could have a smell and that a human being could live to smell that smell. It seems about as improbable as listening to sounds in space, yet space has a definite smell. Being creatures of an atmosphere, we can only smell space indirectly. Sort of like the way a pit viper smells by waving its tongue in the air and thenpressing it to the roof of its mouth where sensors process the molecules that have been adsorbed onto the waggling appendage. I had the pleasure of operating the airlock for two of my crewmates while they went on several space walks. 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.
@kitty42 (3912)
• United States
7 Sep 09
Hello my friend Hmmm, for one thing I have a fear of flying so if I refuse to get on a plane imagine how I feel about this, going into space is something I would never want to do ever you can have fun my wonderful friend send me a message when you return o.k sulphur/gunpowder no way I could only imagine what its like, thats the only way I will ever get there is through my imagination
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi Kitty. A fear of flying would likely make travel by rocket not in the picture, but yes, one can go many places simply in the imagination. If I ever get a chance to go, I'll take pictures for you Have a beautiful day. Karen
@kitty42 (3912)
• United States
14 Sep 09
Hello my friend That sound like a plan to me, I wish you all the best lol
1 person likes this
@Iriene88 (5352)
• Malaysia
5 Oct 09
Hi Karen, This is absolutely interesting. However, I personally would not want to go to the outerspace with the current space technology. Perhaps when it is more advance, more 'luxurious' a bit, without those inconvenience situations we have to adapt. Waiting for the space hotel to be ready first...Hahaha. Look like I am abit pampered! Yes, I truly support you if you decided to experience the adventure...Admire your bravery and courage
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Oct 09
Hello Iriene. Luxury would definitely add something of comfort to the experience, and I suspect that is a long time off. But it would be nice just to experience something which the average person doesn't truly know all that much about. Thamk you for commenting. Karen
@hotsummer (10449)
• Philippines
7 Sep 09
i would not want go to outerspace. i don't think that there is anything i would be interested to see out there in the space. i am just more curious on what i can see around the world or other countries. cause i have not been around world. anyways, i think that some people are interested to see the space there is nothing wrong with it but it is not appealing to me.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi Hotsummer. I think, like you, that whatever each of us feels or wants to experience (or not) is just fine. We're all put together with our own unique wishes and thoughts. Thank you for sharing yours, and have a fine day. Karen
• United States
7 Sep 09
I think I would. Even though it may smell like sulphur. I always look at the starts and wonder what it would be like to be in space and see them. Especially from another planet. Wow. What an experience that would be.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hello Audra. I ask myself those same questions each a time a rocket is launched for another journey into space. It would certainly be a novel experience. I would be up for it! Thank you for your input. Karen
@cherrc (666)
• Philippines
7 Sep 09
i would just probably enjoy the experience of being there. i really love trying new thing that will help me develop and unsderstand the things around me. go space! :)
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi Cherrc. That is me...I love exploring and trying new things. So yes, go space! Thank you for responding and have a wonderful day. Karen
@elmiko (6640)
• United States
7 Sep 09
one person who went into outer space got a chance to smell it and she described it as smelling like a burned cookie.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi Elmiko. Hm, now I've burned a few cookies, so that is a smell I would recognize lol. Thank you for responding to the discussion, and have a wonderful day. Karen
@prinzcy (5057)
• Malaysia
6 Sep 09
He can smell the space? I don't know whether there's a smell but I thought he's in a suit? There's a hole in that suit! Otherwise that smell must had come from his suit. Someone's shooting something while wearing that suit (or whatever method possible) I don't want to go to space, I will keep my feet on this ground. So far there's nothing to see. But who knows.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hi Prinzcy. I don't know how the smell reaches an astronaut, but many of them comment on it. Interesting questions and theories you've brought up. I love trying new things, exploring whatever my eyes can see, only up close, hence for me, going into space would be wonderful! I do know though that you're not alone in wanting to keep your feet firmly planted on the earth. I hope you have a nice day, and appreciate your response! Karen
@mimpi1911 (25454)
• India
6 Sep 09
I would karen, I would. Even at the cost being smeared with all sulphur like smell.
1 person likes this
• United States
9 Sep 09
Hello Mimpi. Yes, I think it would be worth such a novel experience, even if one returned smelling like a lit match lol. I hope your day goes well. Karen
@Pablo101 (17)
• Romania
6 Sep 09
Hi,i like at in one day be into one spaceship ...and get out from there ..and why not smell the atmosphere.and who know"s how smell enter into my nose
1 person likes this
• United States
7 Sep 09
Hi Pablo. What if you go for one day, and then absolutely love it? You might want to stay a long time, then. It would be a great thing to come back and describe to everyone. And imagine the pictures you could take :D Thank you for responding and have a nice day. Karen