Sunday, September 06, 2009

Space smells

Here's an interesting article from Tariq Malik of on rookies in space and the unexpected things they experience.
"It's a very, very different environment than I expected," Discovery shuttle pilot Kevin Ford, a first-time spaceflyer, said from orbit late Friday.

One of things Ford wasn't ready for is the weird smell.

"From the [spacewalks] there really is a distinct smell of space when they come back in," Ford said from the station in a Friday night news conference. "It's like...something I haven't ever smelled before, but I'll never forget it. You know how those things stick with you."
And one of the coolest things about the moon is that it apparently smells like gunpowder, at least it did to the Apollo explorers when the astronauts got back into the landers and took off their helmets.
"It is really a strong smell," radioed Apollo 16 pilot Charlie Duke. "It has that taste -- to me, [of] gunpowder -- and the smell of gunpowder, too." On the next mission, Apollo 17, Gene Cernan remarked, "smells like someone just fired a carbine in here."
Which gets me to thinking: Could firearms work in space? The cartridges are sealed, and they operate on simple chemical reactions, so I guess you could theoretically shoot a gun in space, or on the moon. Now, whether you'd actually want to is another thing. There's that whole law of physics that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which means recoil would be a bitch.

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