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What does space smell like?

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Quick Answer

Space smells like a combination of diesel fumes, barbecue and hot metal. The smell is the result of dying stars that release compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds are in space dust, comets and meteors.

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Full Answer

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are on Earth too, appearing in coal, oil and many foods. For training purposes, NASA attempts to recreate the smell of space, concentrating on the smell of the moon, with the aid of fragrance maker Omega Ingredients. Astronauts describe the scent as having a spent gunpowder smell. Space further away from stars, outside the galaxy has a wider array of smells, including sugar and sulfur.

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