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If space is a vacuum, then how can it contain an odor? I read that after spacewalks, astronauts detected an unusual odor after removing their spacesuits. It was compared to the smell of a candle burning. Perhaps this is the smell from the "Big Bang"?
Here's a former astronaut describing the smell: Astronaut Chris Hadfield Debunks Space Myths | WIRED "This one is true! (gunpowder, burnt steak, brimstone)" and What does space smell like? Astronaut Chris Hadfield answers your questions "a little bit like a shooting range, gunpower/cordite, brimstone"
If outer space was a perfect vacuum, then there would be no planets or other objects occupying it. How much space are we talking about, and where is this space you refer to? for practical purposes, outer space is defined to as starting at a location past the Kármán line heading outwards from planet Earth. That does not however mean that it is a perfect vacuum. There are still particles, atoms, molecules and other stuff there.
I have also read that Astronauts detect the smell of slight traces of something burnt or burning. This can be caused by a physical effect to do with the way the brain reacts to certain conditions. It may not actually be due to the human olfactory system.
Even though such things may affect Astronauts, NASA or other space agency medical staff may not take it as a long term effect that cannot be corrected or stabilized. And as such still allow Astronauts to space walk with periods of recovery in between. Thus allowing the astronauts to effectively work in outer space, even though they experience such olfactory sensations.
Yeh, I also have seen that video with Astronaut Chris Hadfield. One of the biggest issues with Astronaut habitats in outer space is that they accumulate large amounts of dead skin cells. I mean, huge amounts! So if some of those dead skin cells deposited themselves on the space suits, and radiation outside the craft frazzled the cells, it would smell like burnt steak, when you come back inside the habitat/craft.
Astronauts do not do laundry in space. NASA wants to tackle odor challenges
Cape Canaveral, Florida (NEXSTAR) — How do astronauts do their laundry in space? They don’t.
They wear underwear, gym clothes, and everything else, remove filth, and then junk them until the odor is gone.
NASA wants to change that. Even if it’s not the International Space Station, on the Moon and Mars, we stop throwing away a lot of dirty clothes every year, pack them in the trash, and burn them in the atmosphere on a discarded cargo ship. So, in collaboration with Procter & Gamble Co., we found the best way to clean astronaut clothing in space so that it could be reused for months or years, just like Earth.
The Cincinnati company announced on Tuesday that it would send a pair of tide detergent and stain removal experiments to the space station later this year and next year. This is all part of the galactic battle with dirty sweaty clothing.
That’s not a small issue, especially as the United States and other countries are trying to set up bases on the Moon and Mars.
According to NASA, rocket cargo space is small and expensive. So why waste new clothes if you can keep them looking and smelling fresh? Given that astronauts need 150 pounds of clothing per year in space, it will soon add up, especially on Mars missions for three years, and Mark Sivik, a chemist specializing in P & G fabrics and home medical technology. Said.
There are also health and illness factors.
Space station astronauts exercise for two hours each day to combat the effects of weightlessness on muscle and bone weakness, and quickly sweat, smell, and stiffen their training clothing. According to former NASA astronaut and NFL player Leland Melvin, their T-shirts, shorts and socks are fouled enough to run through pairs every week.
“Then they are considered toxic,” said Melvin, a spokesman for the project. “They like to have their own life. It’s very hard to sweat.”
Astronaut Don Pettit once tried to grow tomato and basil seeds in his old underwear, but he succeeded. According to NASA:
“The station has enough supplies to change underwear, probably once every three to four days, so I wondered if there were some nutrients there as well. Old underwear became spherical. It was folded and held in place with several properly placed stitches using the needles and threads of the sewing kit, “says Pettit. He then sewed Russian space toilet paper onto the outer surface of his underwear. “It works very well for the intended purpose,” he said of toilet paper, “it also makes great germinators.”
According to NASA, the seeds germinated in underwear and toilet paper planters within two days.
NASA and other space station partners have considered special antibacterial clothing to prolong wear, but that is not a long-term solution.
In the first experiment, P & G will send a custom-made detergent for space in December, allowing scientists to see how enzymes and other ingredients react to six months of weightlessness. And next May, we’ll deliver stain-removing pens and wipes for astronaut testing.
At the same time, P & G is developing a washer / dryer combo that can work on the Moon and even Mars with minimal water and detergent. Such machines can also be useful here in the arid regions of the globe.
One of many design challenges: Laundry water needs to be recycled for drinking and cooking, just as urine and sweat are now recycled at space stations.
“The best solutions come from the most diverse teams, and how diverse are they than Tide and NASA?” Melvin said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Astronauts do not do laundry in space. NASA wants to tackle odor challenges
Source link Astronauts do not do laundry in space. NASA wants to tackle odor challenges
Outgassing is a challenge to creating and maintaining clean high-vacuum environments. NASA and ESA maintain lists of materials with low-outgassing properties suitable for use in spacecraft, as outgassing products can condense onto optical elements, thermal radiators, or solar cells and obscure them. Materials not normally considered absorbent can release enough light-weight molecules to interfere with industrial or scientific vacuum processes. Moisture, sealants, lubricants, and adhesives are the most common sources, but even metals and glasses can release gases from cracks or impurities. The rate of outgassing increases at higher temperatures because the vapor pressure and rate of chemical reaction increases. For most solid materials, the method of manufacture and preparation can reduce the level of outgassing significantly. Cleaning of surfaces, or heating of individual components or the entire assembly (a process called "bake-out") can drive off volatiles.
NASA's Stardust spaceprobe suffered reduced image quality due to an unknown contaminant that had condensed on the CCD sensor of the navigation camera. A similar problem affected the Cassini spaceprobe's Narrow Angle Camera, but was corrected by repeatedly heating the system to 4 °C. A comprehensive characterisation of outgassing effects using mass spectrometers could be obtained for ESA's Rosetta spacecraft. 
Natural outgassing is commonplace in comets. 
Outgassing is a possible source of many tenuous atmospheres of terrestrial planets or moons.  Many materials are volatile relative to the extreme vacuum of outer space, and may evaporate or even boil at ambient temperature. Materials on the lunar surface have completely outgassed and been blown away by solar winds long ago, but volatile materials may remain at depth. The lunar atmosphere probably originates from outgassing of warm material below the surface.
Once released, gases almost always are less dense than the surrounding rocks and sand and seep toward the surface. Explosive eruptions of volcanoes result from water or other volatiles outgassed from magma being trapped, for example by a lava dome. At the Earth's tectonic divergent boundaries where new crust is being created, helium and carbon dioxide are some of the volatiles being outgassed from mantle magma.
Outgassing can be significant if it collects in a closed environment where air is stagnant or recirculated. For example, new car smell consists of outgassed chemicals released by heat in a closed automobile. Even a nearly odorless material such as wood may build up a strong smell if kept in a closed box for months. There is some concern that plasticizers and solvents released from many industrial products, especially plastics, may be harmful to human health.  Long-term exposure to solvent vapors can cause chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy (CSE). Outgassing toxic gases are of great concern in the design of submarines and space stations, which must have self-contained recirculated atmospheres.
The outgassing of small pockets of air near the surface of setting concrete can lead to permanent holes in the structure (called bugholes) that may compromise its structural integrity.  
NASA-Designed Perfume Gives You The Smell Of Outer Space – Without Leaving Orbit
“…A rather pleasant metallic sensation… [like] … sweet-smelling welding fumes, burning metal, a distinct odor of ozone, an acrid smell, walnuts and brake pads, gunpowder, fruit, rum, and even burnt almond cookie.”
Decades ago, NASA asked specialists to develop the “smell of space” in order to help prepare astronauts for the experience of outer space.
Now, a perfume, Eau de Space, has attracted eager buyers where it’s trial orbit on Kickstarter has raised $516,000 in preorders.
“The history of the ‘smell of space’ has been clouded behind various accounts of its development. Ever since the first space walk, astronauts were shocked by the lingering odor when returning back into the spacecraft,” according to the campaign on Kickstarter.
NASA Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield said, “The only time you can smell space is when you come back in from a space walk. As you open the hatch, there is a distinctive smell.”
Some describe it as rum, fruit, seared steak, or a BBQ. The first space tourists also noted a pungent aroma once the hatch opened, “like burnt cookies”.
Gene Cernan, the Apollo 17 Astronaut remarked about another scent he experienced: “The moon smells like spent gunpowder.”
“The smell of space is so distinct that…NASA reached out to a fragrance maker to re-create the odor for its training simulations,” according to NASA documents obtained through a freedom of information request.
Now, the makers have partnered with award winning perfumers, and report that they’ve secured exclusive commercial contracts to reproduce the secret shelved formula based on verified astronaut accounts.
Though not affiliated with NASA, every $29 bottle purchased of Eau de Space will also help support STEM programs for students, through a buy-one-give-one program.
“For every bottle of Eau de Space you buy, we’re going to donate one to a K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) program” for low-income students.
“It’s a big promise, and isn’t the best decision for a company trying to make a profit. But, we really believe in the cause and hope you do too. Imagine if a child that smells Eau de Space today is inspired to become an astronaut, scientist, or engineer.”
It will be made in the UK utilizing living-wage labor and environmentally-friendly practices, including zero manufacturing waste, according to the campaign. 11,000 people have become supporters and there’s still 21 days left to order.
If you don’t have $29, you don’t have to go to the moon to catch a whiff—the scent will soon be orbiting around an Earthling near you.
GIVE Your Friends A Chance to Smell Space By Sharing on Social Media…
An unexpected solution in fast radio bursts
In 2007, an entirely unanticipated opportunity appeared. Duncan Lorimer, an astronomer at the University of West Virginia, reported the serendipitous discovery of a cosmological phenomenon known as a fast radio burst (FRB). FRBs are extremely brief, highly energetic pulses of radio emissions. Cosmologists and astronomers still don’t know what creates them, but they seem to come from galaxies far, far away.
As these bursts of radiation traverse the universe and pass through gasses and the theorized WHIM, they undergo something called dispersion.
The initial mysterious cause of these FRBs lasts for less a thousandth of a second and all the wavelengths start out in a tight clump. If someone was lucky enough – or unlucky enough – to be near the spot where an FRB was produced, all the wavelengths would hit them simultaneously.
But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave “feels” the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.
The “wind resistance” effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.
Fast radio bursts originate from galaxies millions and billions of light-years away and that distance is one of the reasons we can use them to find the missing baryons. ICRAR, CC BY-SA
Therein lay the potential of FRBs to weigh the universe’s baryons, an opportunity we recognized on the spot. By measuring the spread of different wavelengths within one FRB, we could calculate exactly how much matter – how many baryons – the radio waves passed through on their way to Earth.
At this point we were so close, but there was one final piece of information we needed. To precisely measure the baryon density, we needed to know where in the sky an FRB came from. If we knew the source galaxy, we would know how far the radio waves traveled. With that and the amount of dispersion they experienced, perhaps we could calculate how much matter they passed through on the way to Earth?
Unfortunately, the telescopes in 2007 weren’t good enough to pinpoint exactly which galaxy – and therefore how far away – an FRB came from.
We knew what information would allow us to solve the problem, now we just had to wait for technology to develop enough to give us that data.
What does space smell like? Now you can find out for yourself
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Who says traditional aerospace contractors can't have some fun, too?
On Monday, April 1—yes, April Fools' Day—Lockheed Martin announced the release of a new fragrance that smells like space. The company describes the scent as featuring "a deep metallic base," with a "clean, sterile feel that is balanced by a subtle yet seductive fiery undertone that burns off like vapor in the atmosphere, helping men, women and children everywhere smell like they’re floating through the cosmos."
The company also produced a slick "origin" video for the scent, dubbed Vector, featuring in-house astronaut Tony Antonelli. Antonelli has twice piloted a space shuttle into orbit, in 2009 and 2010.
“The first time I opened the hatch to help spacewalkers back inside, I was blown away by the strong and unique odor they brought back," said Antonelli, who now leads Orion spacecraft mission planning for Lockheed Martin. "I had smelled nothing like it before and nothing like it since. Until now. Lockheed Martin has a history of achieving the impossible, but this is the dawn of a new scent and its most intoxicating achievement yet. The fragrance is truly out of this world.”
Yes, this is an April Fool's prank, but the company actually produced a limited batch of Vector for public consumption. You have a limited opportunity to get a sample by visiting this website. Ars was able to get our hands on a sample Monday morning, and naturally we tried it out. Be careful, a company official said, "a little goes a long way." He was not wrong.
I seem to have a poorly developed sense of smell. But even my limited powers of whiff could immediately detect this odor. After rubbing the fragrance onto my hands, I smelled something dark and musky, charcoal-like. Certainly, I have never been to space. But the odor seemed familiar. And in the end, I did place the smell—it reminded me of opening a fresh bag of black mulch and spreading it around trees during the springtime. It was not unpleasant, but I'm not sure it would be particularly seductive or alluring. But then again, I'm 45 and married with kids, so those qualities are not exactly what I'm going for these days in a cologne.
This is not the first time a company has tried to bottle the scent of space. According to Robert Pearlman of CollectSpace, artists created 300 scratch-and-sniff images that were supposed to have the gunpowder-like smell of the Moon in 2010. More recently, an aroma company sought to capture the scent of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, and that was subsequently imprinted on postcards.
The Hunt for Planet B review: Tracking the James Webb Space Telescope
THE question of whether we on planet Earth are alone in the universe has been a constant over millennia. The Hunt for Planet B, a new film by award-winning documentary film-maker Nathaniel Kahn that premiered at the recent South by Southwest festival, documents efforts to explore not only exoplanets but also other potentially hospitable worlds.
At the centre of this effort is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency have spent more than $10 billion (so far) on the project, which has faced many delays and budgetary issues during its 25-year development and has needed scientists to fight its corner. The telescope is finally due to launch in October 2021.
In 2016, Kahn made two short films about JWST: Into the Unknown and Telescope. These show his artistic investment in the project, sharing footage and interviewees, such as JWST scientists John Mather and Matt Mountain.
The Hunt for Planet B updates these films in important ways. While it doesn’t shy away from science, with so many scientists contributing, the sheer volume of details, diagrams and formulae may confound viewers new to the field. And the documentary can lose track of its narrative, as the story of one scientist’s personal history with astronomy quickly shifts to habitable planets and alien life.
On the upside, Kahn uses the film as a platform to explore research into exoplanets, which can signify the existence of habitable worlds outside our solar system. This allows him to highlight the leading female scientists in the field, who each bring a fascinating perspective.
Take astrophysicist Sara Seager, who we first meet during a 2013 NASA congressional hearing. Amid laughter from sceptics on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, she brushes off doubts about alien life by firmly arguing for the probability of an Earth-like planet amid the billions of galaxies in the universe. The idea of a “Planet B” empowers her to fight for the continuation of the JWST project and displays a no-nonsense attitude that sets the tone for the film.
Then we are introduced to astrophysicist Natalie Batalha, JWST engineer Amy Lo, astrobiologist Maggie Turnbull and former Center for SETI Research director Jill Tarter – all of whom deliver insights about space exploration that subtly underscore their achievements.
They also highlight growing diversity in the field. This may only be a passing moment in the film, reinforced by JWST programme manager Gregory Robinson, but the documentary is a welcome companion to films such as Hidden Figures, which celebrated a group of African-American women working as NASA mathematicians and engineers and was set in the 1960s.
Kahn intersperses the interviews with snippets showing JWST’s ongoing development – as well as news and sci-fi movies – to support the possibility of finding another habitable planet besides Earth. In January 2020, the first potentially habitable world, TOI 700 d, was discovered more than 100 light years away by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, so the possibilities are endless.
Aided by Robert Richman’s stirring cinematography, The Hunt for Planet B does a terrific job of placing Earth in a new context – as perhaps one of a number of planets capable of hosting life.
Uranus Smells Terrible. There, We Said it
L et’s stop pretending, shall we? Because really, we’re not fooling anyone. Uranus is funny. It was funny when you were twelve, and it’s funny now. It was certainly funny when I was a boy and went to a space-themed summer camp where all the bunks were named after planets and Uranus happened to be where we stored the sports equipment, meaning that every now and then a counselor would say, “Somebody put those bats in Uranus,” and then would have to walk over and put them there himself because we were too busy falling over one another laughing. And it was absolutely funny in 1986 when the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by the planet and headlines around the country said, “Probe Approaches Uranus.”
And now it’s funny again, with the news that Uranus, yes, smells terrible. It couldn’t be Mars. Nope. Couldn’t be Venus. Had to be Uranus.
The finding comes courtesy of a study in Nature Astronomy, revealing that the cloud tops of Uranus are made principally of hydrogen sulfide, the gas that is principally responsible for the foul smell of rotten eggs and, yes, human flatulence.
The Internet has done what the Internet always does in these situations, which is to resist the obvious jokes and focus soberly on the science. Kidding! “Somebody light a match,” wrote the Huffington Post. “Uranus stinks,” offered The Washington Post. And @twitmericks provided perhaps Twitter’s best contribution to the discussion with:
But while the science behind the discovery might not be as much fun as the laughs, it’s definitely more important. The solar system has four so-called gas giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But only Jupiter and Saturn have been studied in close detail thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn for thirteen years the Galileo spacecraft, which spent eight years orbiting Jupiter and the Juno spacecraft, which is orbiting Jupiter now. Uranus and Neptune, by contrast, both got a Voyager 2 flyby, and that’s been it.
Jupiter and Saturn’s cloud tops are known, thanks to the up-close analyses, to be made mostly of ammonia ice. But that doesn’t mean Uranus’s and Neptune’s would be as well. Different worlds at different distances from the sun would have condensed down in different ways when the solar system was forming 4.5 billion years ago. So to find out what the Uranian chemistry is, a team led by planetary physicist Patrick Irwin of the University of Oxford turned to the Gemini Observatory, a pair of infrared telescopes atop Mauna Kea Mountain in Hawaii, jointly operated by the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The investigators were hoping to analyze the spectral lines&mdashessentially the chemical fingerprints&mdashof the gasses in Uranus’s atmosphere.
Infrared and near-infrared observatories have been in operation for a long time, but the 1.7 billion mile distance to Uranus made it nearly impossible to use the systems to get a clear sense of the planet’s chemistry. To solve the mystery, Irwin and his colleagues observed sunlight as it streamed through a backlit Uranus, and folded in a wealth of other variables, including atmospheric temperature, pressure, humidity, saturated gasses and more. Ultimately, the hydrogen sulfide showed itself.
The study provides new insights into planetary formation in our own solar system and offers clues to the chemistry of planets circling other stars. The researchers themselves, however, are not insensible to the appeal of the study to nonscientists.
“If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’s clouds,” said Irwin in a statement that accompanied the study’s release, “they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions.”
That, in scientist-speak, is a pretty darn good flatulence joke. The rest of us aren’t so limited, of course so feel free to, you know, let fly.
Hubble Has Tracked Down the Source of 5 Different Fast Radio Bursts
In a new survey, astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have managed to pinpoint the location of several Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). FRBs are powerful jets of energy that, until recently, had mysterious, unknown origins. The research team, which includes University of California Santa Cruz’ Alexandra Manning and Sunil Simha, as well as Northwestern University’s Wen-fai Fong, performed a survey of eight FRBs, from which they were able to determine that five of them originated from a spiral arm in their host galaxies.
FRB sources are notoriously difficult to locate, because the bursts don’t last very long, and few of them repeat, making follow-up observations incredibly challenging. The first FRB was seen in 2007 (though searching through archival data revealed that an FRB had been captured in July 2001 by the Parkes radio observatory in Australia). In the twenty years since, about a thousand of them have been detected – but only about 15 have had their source identified.
Based on the observations available so far, the best hypothesis for the origin of FRBs is that they are created by outbursts of energy from magnetars. Magnetars are a type of neutron star (incredibly dense stellar cores left over from the collapse of supergiant stars), and are named for their powerful magnetic fields. In 2020, one FRB was traced to a magnetar, lending the hypothesis some firm evidence that had previously been lacking.
This current research helps to further cement the magnetar hypothesis, ruling out some other possible FRB sources. For example, by identifying that FRBs seem to occur along galactic spiral arms, the research indicates that FRBs probably do not originate from the explosion of massive young stars, which cluster in brighter regions of the galaxies. It also rules out the merger of two neutron stars as an FRB source, because events like this tend to occur far from spiral arms, and in much older galaxies. Magnetars, in contrast, can exist quite easily within the galactic spiral arms that Hubble observed.
The research also helped confirm the types of galaxies from which FRBs originate. Most large galaxies are accompanied by smaller dwarf galaxies (the Milky Way, for example, is surrounded by around 50 smaller galaxies, such as the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, which are visible to the naked eye in the Southern Hemisphere). Previous attempts by ground-based telescopes to observe FRB sources were unable to resolve the images clearly enough to determine if the FRBs came from the main galaxy, or from a dwarf galaxy hidden behind it. The Hubble Space Telescope’s advantage over ground-based telescopes comes from its ability to observe distant galaxies without any atmospheric distortions, enabling higher quality images. The Hubble survey concluded that the FRBs were indeed coming from the main galaxies, and that FRBs therefore tend to originate in young, massive, star-forming galaxies.
“Our results are new and exciting,” explained lead author Alexandra Manning. “This is the first high-resolution view of a population of FRBs…Most of the galaxies are massive, relatively young, and still forming stars. The imaging allows us to get a better idea of the overall host-galaxy properties, such as its mass and star-formation rate, as well as probe what’s happening right at the FRB position because Hubble has such great resolution.”
The research will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
Get ready for visitors from beyond our solar system
Some people want to believe the moon landing was a hoax. Others are certain the truth is being kept from us. Here’s what we do know: A comet from beyond the bubble that contains you, me and everyone we know is hurtling through our solar system right now. In the days ahead, it will pass closer to Earth than it will ever come.
Then it will leave our solar system. If you miss it, don’t worry. More interstellar tourists will be passing through our neighborhood, which is just one tiny corner of one spiral arm full of stars that juts out from a supermassive black hole.