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Author Topic: does space smell?  (Read 3024 times)

paul.fr

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does space smell?
« on: 24/10/2007 13:43:52 »
if we were able to stick our nose out, would space have a distinctive smell?


 

lyner

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does space smell?
« Reply #1 on: 24/10/2007 14:10:46 »
My God Paul, you do pick 'em!
There might be the occasional molecule of 'smell' out there. Some of the propellants used in rockets may be a bit smelly. It would be very diluted, though.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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does space smell?
« Reply #2 on: 24/10/2007 19:57:53 »
There are organic (and other) compounds in space that would smell if you gathered enough of them together. What I'm not sure of is how dilute thery are, it may be that there's so much H and He there that you would suffocate from the lack of O2 before your nose got enough other stuff to notice it.
 

another_someone

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does space smell?
« Reply #3 on: 24/10/2007 20:33:04 »
Actually, I suspect it is a bit more complex that that.

The point really is not whether there are molecules that on Earth would trigger the olfactory glands, but rather whether the ions (not the molecules) in space would trigger an olfactory response.  I could well imagine that the ions would be more reactive, and assuming the don't damage the olfactory nerves (as prolonged exposure to H2S does), then I could imagine the would trigger a response in the nerves.

I suppose the question is whether ionised gasses smell the same as their electrically neutral counterparts, and I suspect they do not.
 

Offline RD

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does space smell?
« Reply #4 on: 30/10/2007 12:10:32 »
According to Stephen Fry on the quiz show QI...
Quote
The Moon smells of gunpowder
and
Quote
the ozone layer smells of geraniums
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QI
« Last Edit: 30/10/2007 12:13:55 by RD »
 

lyner

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does space smell?
« Reply #5 on: 30/10/2007 16:15:45 »
The density would definitely be very low, of anything up there. The pressure is ridiculously low- something like 1/1,000000 atmospheric pressure at 250km - and so would the density.
To take a sample of the smell, you could run a compressor for a long time and smell what it collected when you got to 1 Atmosphere of pressure.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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does space smell?
« Reply #6 on: 30/10/2007 19:55:20 »
And, by the time you had compressed it all the ions would have found some electrons and been neutralised. I still think that perhaps, since it's mainly hydrogen it would smell like hydrogen i.e. not at all.
 

Offline Alandriel

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does space smell?
« Reply #7 on: 30/10/2007 20:05:05 »
if we were able to stick our nose out, would space have a distinctive smell?

Captain Janeway would say: I smell coffee in that nebula!

 ;D

What a fab question Paul, how do you do it?!?!?!?!  ;D ;D
 

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does space smell?
« Reply #7 on: 30/10/2007 20:05:05 »

 

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