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Hard Science

A new perfume can help you smell like space

Ever want to smell like an astronaut? Now you can!

Eau De Space

A bottle of Eau De Space

Key Takeaways
  • After years of trying, a group has produced the smell of outer space in a perfume.
  • Astronauts have described the smell of space as similar to "ozone," "gunpowder," and "fried steak."
  • Exactly what causes the scent is still debated.

Have you ever watched a sci-fi film and thought, “I wonder what everything smells like in this scene?”

If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck. A Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to produce a perfume that smells like outer space. Now you can go about your day smelling like the inside of the Lunar Lander, Millennium Falcon, or Discovery One.

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NASA has been concerned about what space smells like for years, primarily to reduce the surprise to astronauts who go up for the first time. According to Eau de Space’s Kickstarter video, the space agency has been using a reproduction of the smell of space for decades.

In 2008, they asked Steve Pearce, a chemist who founded Omega Ingredients, to help them create the smell for an exhibition, presumably a more difficult task than giving new astronauts a spritz. Now, thanks to what they dub “sheer determination, grit, a lot of luck, and a couple of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests,” the team behind the Kickstarter hopes to bring the scent to the public.

Descriptions of what it smells like are all over the place, and include raspberries, rum, “spent gunpowder,” hot metal, fried steak, and “ozone.”

For those wondering when you’d get a chance to notice the smell with a helmet on, as is required for spacewalks or moonwalks, the scent follows astronauts as they return from spacewalks. According to a researcher who spoke to The Atlantic, the odor is created by “high-energy vibrations in particles brought back inside which mix with the air.”

As to why it smells like the various things mentioned above, the jury is still out. One suggestion is that at least some of the particles are hydrocarbons, which can also be found in things like tobacco smoke and car exhaust here on Earth. NASA argues that at least some of the smell is caused by oxidation of these particles, whatever they may be, as they enter the oxygen-rich environment of the spacecraft.

The plan is for the fragrance to be used primarily as an educational tool, sparking conversations about outer space in the classroom. To this end, each purchase includes a one bottle donation to a K-12 school. According to Engadget, there are currently no plans to mass-produce the fragrance after the Kickstarter ends.

If you want some, you might want to make that move before the countdown hits zero.

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