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15 Crazy Space Travel Facts

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The final frontier smells a lot like a Nascar race—a bouquet of hot metal, diesel fumes and barbecue. The source? Dying stars, mostly.The by-products of all this rampant combustion are smelly compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These molecules &quot;seem to be all over the universe,&quot; says Louis Allamandola, the founder and director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA Ames Research Center. &quot;And they float around forever,&quot; appearing in comets, meteors and space dust. These hydrocarbons have even been shortlisted for the basis of the earliest forms of life on Earth. Not surprisingly, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can be found in coal, oil and even food.Though a pure, unadulterated whiff of outer space is impossible for humans (it&#039;s a vacuum after all; we would die if we tried), when astronauts are outside the ISS, space-borne compounds adhere to their suits and hitch a ride back into the station. Astronauts have reported smelling &quot;burned&quot; or &quot;fried&quot; steak after a space walk, and they aren&#039;t just dreaming of a home-cooked meal.The smell of space is so distinct that, three years ago, NASA reached out to Steven Pearce of the fragrance maker Omega Ingredients to re-create the odor for its training simulations. &quot;Recently we did the smell of the moon,&quot; Pearce says. &quot;Astronauts compared it to spent gunpowder.&quot;Allamandola explains that our solar system is particularly pungent because it is rich in carbon and low in oxygen, and &quot;just like a car, if you starve it of oxygen you start to see black soot and get a foul smell.&quot; Oxygen-rich stars, however, have aromas reminiscent of a charcoal grill. Once you leave our galaxy, the smells can get really interesting. In dark pockets of the universe, molecular clouds full of tiny dust particles host a veritable smorgasbord of odors, from wafts of sweet sugar to the rotten-egg stench of sulfur.Sauce:<a rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank” href=””></a>

The first thing astronauts tend to notice upon entering space is it’s unique scent. Space travelers have reported that it smells like seared steak, hot metal, and welding fumes. The odor is mostly a by-product of dying stars whose combustion creates smelly compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These stinky molecules are all over the universe and never really disappear. While it’s impossible to get an actual whiff of space ‘air,’ the scent molecules stick to just about everything, including space suits, so astronauts smell especially pungent after a trip outside the shuttle. NASA even commissioned fragrance maker Omega Ingredients to re-create the odor for its training simulations. That means now they have the scent of the moon and outer space bottled!

Space SMELLS (Part II)

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While the cosmos may smell like a barbecue at a NASCAR race, conditions inside the space craft aren’t always so pleasant. As you can see in the GIF above, water (or any liquid) acts pretty strange when there’s no gravity to keep it under control, making showering and bathing nearly impossible. The International Space Station’s living quarters consist of one 74 meter long tube, about the size of 1.5 Boeing 747s, with a permanent crew of six, so it can get pretty cramped. As many astronauts forgo showering in favor of moist towelettes, it can get pretty stinky pretty fast.

No Flavor For You!

OSAKA, JAPAN: Japan's food maker Nissin food products unveils the instant noodles for astronauts

OSAKA, JAPAN: Japan’s food maker Nissin food products unveils the instant noodles for astronauts “Space Ram” during a press conference at the company’s Instant Noodle Museum in Osaka 27 July 2005. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi brought with her the first “space noodle” aboard Space Shuttle Discovery 26 July. Credit: “Space Noodles” Credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

The sense of taste relies heavily on the sense of smell, so as scents become more and more faint, astronauts report that food begins to taste more and more like cardboard.