What Does Outer Space Smell Like: Vinegar? Welding Fumes?

The molecules that give eggs, vinegar and nail polish remover their distinctive odor are also found in clouds of interstellar dust, says an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Some folks had earlier said space smells like hot metal and seared meats.

Astronaut Thomas Jones said it “carries a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell…a little like gunpowder, sulfurous.”

Tony Antonelli, another space-walker, said space “definitely has a smell that’s different than anything else.”

A gentleman named Don Pettit was a bit more verbose on the topic: “Each time, when I repressed the airlock, opened the hatch and welcomed two tired workers inside, a peculiar odor tickled my olfactory senses,” Pettit recalled. “At first I couldn’t quite place it. It must have come from the air ducts that re-pressed the compartment. Then I noticed that this smell was on their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools. It was more pronounced on fabrics than on metal or plastic surfaces.” He concluded: it is hard to describe this smell; The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.”