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Author Topic: How is it possible to smell space?  (Read 3199 times)

James C

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How is it possible to smell space?
« on: 03/11/2008 22:34:43 »
James C  asked the Naked Scientists:

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/4/20081016/tuk-what-does-outer-space-smell-like-dba1618.html

Dear Dr Chris, Dave, Cat etc.

I read this news story recently and wondered if it would be possible to smell in space. As you can't breathe or speak due to the vacuum, am I right in saying smelling should be impossible too?

If the astronauts had been out of the spaceship and gone back in to the oxygenated environment, would they then smell what was on their clothing etc?

If it's true that space smells of steak and hot metal, what could account for that?

Somebody just wrote "It's only five minutes since the Chinese have made it into space, and the buggers have already opened a takeaway up there."!

Thanks,

James.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 09/11/2008 22:36:05 by chris »


 

Offline daveshorts

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Re: How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #1 on: 04/11/2008 08:34:44 »
Apparently they are going by the reports of astronauts who have been on space walks and what they smell on their suit when they come back in. In which case it is more the smell of their space suit and the space station when it is exposed to the radiation of space.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2008 22:38:49 by chris »
 

lyner

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Re: How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #2 on: 04/11/2008 17:09:28 »
It could also be because there is a different mix of chemicals from normal on the surface due to some having boiled off, selectively, in the reduced pressure.

A parallel:
Distilled water 'tastes' funny and that must be because of what it hasn't got in it rather than what it has (i.e. nothing).

You could repeat the experiment with a pair of grundies etc. etc. in a bell jar and see if they smell funnier when you take them out of the vacuum.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #3 on: 04/11/2008 19:30:23 »

I read this news story recently and wondered if it would be possible
to smell in space.
I suspect we all know peeople who could smell in space- they do the rest of the time.
 

Offline yor_on

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Re: How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #4 on: 07/11/2008 23:05:07 »
Isn't smell in its most rudiment form just molecules that fits certain receptors whom the brain then see fit to translate into various 'smells'?
If so, doesn't space contains molecules too, not as much as down on Earth but perhaps enough (when being as near Earth as those stations/ships are) to get stuck on those spacesuits, and when finally coming in giving you the possibility to smell 'space':)

Or maybe I'm just plain overreaching here::))
« Last Edit: 07/11/2008 23:10:27 by yor_on »
 

Offline chris

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How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #5 on: 09/11/2008 22:40:32 »
Apparently they are going by the reports of "astronaughts"

Dave - are these reports not clearly unreliable and to be distrusted on the grounds that they are from people who have presumably been into space precisely zero times?!!!

Chris
 

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How is it possible to smell space?
« Reply #5 on: 09/11/2008 22:40:32 »

 

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