When I was 16, my first vacation to Europe surprised me. But at the end of the trip for a long time to stay with me rather than the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace or canals of Venice, but ordinary aspects of life: the locals take for granted the things: road marking and the color of the logo, posters, a local snack food in the shop window, and the place of the sound and the smell of the most important.
Space is a vacuum; it shouldn’t have a smell. And yet it does. First off, there is a giant ball of sweet fruity rum smelling gas right in the center of the galaxy (the chemical is called Ethyl Formate). Why is it there? No one knows. From reports of astronauts we know that other odors of space are also food related with some referring to it as sulfurous and meaty. And another astronaut, Thomas Jones, has reported: “When you repressurize the airlock and get out of your suit, there is a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell, [ . . . ] also similar to burnt gunpowder or the ozone smell of electrical equipment.”
International Space Station Science Officer, Don Pettit had his own observations: “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.”
Obviously in a vacuum you can’t smell anything directly, but there are millions of particles floating around that do have a scent and it is when they adhere to the suits worn by the astronauts or enter through the airlocks that these observations are made. Interestingly NASA has tried to replicate the scent on earth as part of their training for future astronauts.