A British company, named The Aroma Company, concocted a perfume that smells like a comet. Although the comet’s coma contain hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which smell like cat urine, bitter almonds and rotten eggs, the actual comet perfume is actually not that bad.
The perfume was modelled after the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The creation was at the request of Open University researcher Colin Snodgrass and other members of the Rosetta mission team that helped the European Space Agency’s Philae lander arrive on the comet in 2014. The Philae lander analyzed the scents at the comet and the data have been recreated by The Aroma Company.
“The full heft of 67P’s bouquet hits me in the face,” reports New Scientist’s Jacob Aron. “Surprisingly, it’s not actually as foul as my first impression led me to believe – somehow a few floral notes are now coming through.”
Snodgrass explains that the company did not use some of the comet’s gas components. The gas also contains hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and hydrogen cyanide, which are poisonous, so the company created synthetic versions instead.
“Most of the coma is water vapour, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and they don’t smell of anything,” points out Snodgrass. “We’ve picked the things that are the smelliest.”
Geraint Jones of the University College London likened the smell of the comet perfume to that of lily In fact, Jones liked it so much that he brought some samples home to his wife.
“Thankfully, the sample the pair have today is far more concentrated than those they will be inflicting on the public,” says Aron. “ If you can’t get to the Royal Society to smell it yourself, the team has bought enough postcards for future outreach events, so you may get another chance.”
Now, the public can finally know what a comet smells like. Samples will be given next month during the Royal Society summer exhibition in London.
“If you could smell a comet, this is what you would get, but it would be difficult to actually smell it,” states Snodgrass. “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.”