Space smells bad. According to a post shared by Space.com, astronauts have reported that space leaves a funky smell on their space suits. Further, the chemical makeup detected on Uranus shows that the gas giant most likely smells like farts or rotting eggs.
Now, obviously, we can’t go out into space or down to Uranus and just sniff the air. You’d die, as there isn’t any oxygen and space is full of dangerous radiation, not to mention Uranus is made of gas. However, astronauts who have returned from spacewalks have described their suits as having strong smells like burnt steak or even gunpowder and ozone.
But what about Uranus? How do we know that Uranus smells so bad? Well, using an instrument called the Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer (NIFS) at the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, astronomers were able to determine that the cloud cover found on Uranus is composed of hydrogen sulfide gas.
This gas is what gives rotting eggs their distinctive and unsavory smell, and the researchers say that if we were to ever descend into the depths of Uranus’ atmosphere, we’d likely feel like vomiting because of the smell. Others have described the smell as being akin to smelly farts, which I think we can all agree isn’t something fun to deal with.
But Uranus isn’t the only smelly thing found in space. Comets also have concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in their gaseous halos, along with ammonia and other molecules that give off stinky smells. Fortunately, there’s also a high concentration of water vapor in those halos, so the smells would likely be very weak.
Some researchers also believe that Uranus might smell like urine, too, as it and Neptune could both have ammonia ice in their clouds, which would provide another stinky aroma to go along with the smell of rotting eggs.
Uranus is indeed a very unique planet, and if the molecules in the clouds are anything to go by, it’s a pretty smelly place, too.