British researchers have developed a perfume with the scent of a comet.
“Sniffed” off the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Philae lander, the chemicals have been synthesised and bottled into the closest thing most of us will ever get to a whiff of a space rock.
ESA’s Philae lander was supposed to secure itself on the comet for a ride but bounced back instead. However, it was able to accomplish 80 percent of the scientific mission on the comet despite the glitch.
Now, in order to reminisce about the comet, a chemical analysis of the comet data was used to craft the perfume. The perfume will be handed out at a summer science exhibition of The Royal Society in July. It was created at the request of members of the Rosetta mission team and Colin Snodgrass, a researcher at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.
When Philae landed on the planet, its sensors detected presence of hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide in the comet’s coma. These gases give the smell of rotten eggs, bitter almonds and cat urine.
“Most of the coma is water vapour, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and they don’t smell of anything. We’ve picked the things that are the smelliest,” Snodgrass told New Scientist.
However, the smell is not as foul as it seems to be. Somehow few floral notes were also smelt. But is it really possible to transmit a comet’s smell so many light years away?
“If you could smell a comet, this is what you would get, but it would be difficult to actually smell it. If you are standing there without your space suit, you’re not going to notice the smell, you’re just going to notice the lack of air,” Snodgrass added.
Eau de 67P may not have the most-pleasant of smells but its novelty goes unchallenged. Not every day can one smell like a comet.