Have you ever wondered what a comet smells like? Of course you have, we all have. Well now, science has the answer. They smell like cat’s piss, as well as rotten eggs and bitter almonds. What exactly is that like, you wonder? Worry not, scientists are turning it into a perfume.
Colin Snodgrass has a plan to lather this new scent on postcards and send them far across the planet so that everyone and anyone has the chance to take a whiff. The Royal Society exhibition in London is going to hand out these scented postcards for free in the coming summer, just in case you’re not lucky enough to stumble across one of them yourself.
As for why comets – or at the very least the comet known as Rosetta’s Comet aka 67P – smells this way, that can be chalked down to the ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and hydrogen cyanide the Rosetta team’s Philae lander detected on the surface. But we can reasonably expect other comets to be similarly disgusting. As unpleasant as our planet earth can smell from time to time, it’s sweet as a rose compared to pretty much every other celestial body out there. So breathe deeply and gratefully, readers.