What Does Outer Space Smell like?

Astronauts have claimed that outer space smells like hot metal, with a variety of specific descriptions that depend on the opinions of different astronauts. Recorded responses among astronauts is that outer space has a scent similar to welding fumes, gun powder, burnt electrical equipment, and even seared steak.

After the 2009 discovery of a dust cloud made of ethyl formate, astronauts noted the scent was similar to rum. Astronauts generally report that the distinctive odor of space is the strongest once they remove their spacesuits after having performed spacewalks; therefore, the scent is thought to be the result of the reaction between the particles from space and the oxygen from the spacesuits.

More about outer space:

  • Astronauts generally avoid drinking carbonated beverages because they are unable to burp and release the carbon dioxide bubbles.
  • A 2007 study found that bacteria multiplies twice as fast in space as on Earth, which could be due to the bacteria having to withstand more difficult conditions and thus going into survival mode.
  • In outer space, water boils in one giant bubble rather than in a lot of little bubbles.

Discussion Comments


Bacteria withstand more difficult conditions in space and thus go into survival model; at the same time they are able to multiply twice as fast as on earth. How can this be?

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