How Would Mars Smell?

Imagine for a moment that you had traveled to our neighbor Mars, and that you were able to step outside and breathe in the Mars "air" without suffocating. What would Mars smell like?

You might initially think "It would smell like nothing, it's just a desert". Actually, researchers believe Mars may be a bit stinky - "the predominant Mars odor is a slightly acrid, gassy smell of sulfur compounds, with a chalky, sweet overtone punching through".

While that is largely academic at the moment, it's nonetheless interesting as humans react quite strongly to smells, and they can readily trigger memories (remember your Mom making cookies?).

Our Moon apparently also has a bit of a distinctive odor too.
During the Apollo lunar landing program, for example, some of the moonwalkers noticed that they had brought back rock and dust particles into their lunar module. The material tainted their spacesuits. Once the astronauts took off their helmets, the moon's smell — which was likened to wet ashes in a fireplace, or spent gunpowder from a just-fired shotgun — was evident.


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