The moon smells like gunpowder, comets much worse

By on November 26, 2014
Some say the moon smells like gunpowder. (Credit: NASA)

Chemical & Engineering News’s Elizabeth Wilson recently summarized several astronauts’ impressions of the moon’s aroma for curious earthbound readers.

What does the moon smell like? Most said it smelled like spent gunpowder. The scent was attributed to chemicals created from moon rock and meteorites colliding, which the astronauts were able to smell when they removed their suits in their space capsules.

Comets, some noted, smelled even worse: a combination of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulfide), ammonia, formaldehyde, bitter almond smell (hydrogen cyanide), vinegar (sulfur dioxide), and a toxic sweetness (carbon disulfide). Given their ringing endorsements, moon and comet-scented candles are bound to be popular stocking stuffers this Christmas.

Top image: Moondust is said to smell like gunpowder. (Credit: NASA)

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