The Smell of Space

What does space smell like? Astronauts say raspberries, rum and seared steak | Alaska Dispatch

Astronauts coming back from spacewalks have some surprising descriptions of what space smells like.

According to The Atlantic, some say the smell reminds them of seared steak, or maybe something metallic. Some describe it as sweet, like raspberries or rum.

What Space Smells Like - Megan Garber - The Atlantic

Our extraterrestrial explorers are remarkably consistent in describing Space Scent in meaty-metallic terms. "Space," astronaut Tony Antonelli has said, "definitely has a smell that's different than anything else." Space, three-time spacewalker Thomas Jones has put it, "carries a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell."

Space, Jones elaborated, smells a little like gunpowder. It is "sulfurous."

Add to all those anecdotal assessments the recent discovery, in a vast dust cloud at the center of our galaxy, of ethyl formate -- and the fact that the ester is, among other things, the chemical responsible for the flavor of raspberries. Add to that the fact that ethyl formate itself smells like rum. Put all that together, and one thing becomes clear: The final frontier sort of stinks.

Second EVA Highlights Flight Day 7 - YouTube

Spacewalkers Steve Bowen and Al Drew installed and swapped out several pieces of equipment and repaired or removed thermal insulation outside the International Space Station. They also "filled" a special bottle with space for a Japanese education payload. The bottle will be part of a museum exhibit for public viewing.

HSF - International Space Station

The Smell of Space

Few people have experienced traveling into space. Even fewer have experienced the smell of space.


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.

Space smells like seared steak, hot metal, astronauts report (+video) - CSMonitor.com

Astronauts who have gone on spacewalks consistently speak of space's extraordinarily peculiar odor.

They can't smell it while they're actually bobbing in it, because the interiors of their space suits just smell plastic-y. But upon stepping back into the space station and removing their helmets, they get a strong, distinctive whiff of the final frontier. The odor clings to their suit, helmet, gloves and tools.

Fugitives from the near-vacuum — probably atomic oxygen, among other things — the clinging particles have the acrid aroma of seared steak, hot metal and welding fumes. Steven Pearce, a chemist hired by NASA to recreate the space odor on Earth for astronaut training purposes, said the metallic aspect of the scent may come from high-energy vibrat

NASA Asks Chemist to Make the Smell of Space: Discovery Space

Scent of Space Being Recreated by Chemist

NASA recently asked Steve Pearce, a chemist at Omega Ingredients and Maverick Innovations, to reproduce and bottle the smell of outer space.

Astronauts returning from lengthy spacewalks consistently report a strange odor that dances the lines between seared steak, piping-hot metal and arc welding smoke. To acclimate their astronauts to it during training, NASA has asked chemist Steve Pearce to reproduce this "smell of space."