How It Works
Sun, smell, anything, space, astronaut, Solar Probe Plus

Does the Sun smell of anything?

Sun, smell, anything, space, astronaut, Solar Probe Plus

It’s difficult to know if the Sun has a smell because we haven’t got very close to it – that should change in 2018 when NASA launches its Solar Probe Plus missions, designed to actually enter the Sun’s atmosphere.

We do know what space smells like, thanks to spacewalks by astronauts. Of course they can’t smell it through their suits, but when they come back inside, their suits and instruments have a distinctive odour.

Some astronauts have described it as smelling like a grilled steak, heated metal, or in the words of astronaut Don Pettit, “pleasant, sweet-smelling welding fumes.”

A chemist has even re-created the smell on Earth for astronauts in training.

Find the answer to more baffling questions in How It Works magazine. Order it in print, download the digital version or subscribe today to ensure you never miss an issue!

Plus, take a look at:

What is the Sun made of?

How fast does the Sun spin?

What is a solar flare?