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Space: Astronaut Matthias Maurer: Space smells of sparklers


How does the universe smell? Not many know the answer to this question. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer does, however.

The German ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer compared the smell of space with the metallic scent of a sparkling sparkler.

When a capsule arrives fresh at the ISS space station, you can clearly hear the aroma, Maurer told the German Press Agency. “Then when we open the hatches, you can smell the surface that was just a few minutes ago in open space. It smells a bit like sparklers at Christmas.” His space suit also smelled like this after being used outside the ISS.

Clinical odor as in the laboratory

According to Maurer, inside the International Space Station, around 400 kilometers above the earth, the smell is about as clinical as in a laboratory. “I actually expected, based on what my colleagues told me, that it smelled like the submarine,” said the 52-year-old Saarlander with a smile. The astronaut from the European space agency Esa returned to earth on May 6 after almost half a year on the outpost of mankind.

Not used to gravity yet

He still made small mistakes because after 177 days in weightlessness he hadn’t fully adjusted to gravity again, Maurer said. “For example, that I wanted to throw something over to someone and just gave the thing a slight nudge, like in space. It fell, of course, just a meter in front of my feet.” He is currently doing intensive exercises to control fine motor skills, among other things. “I notice that my head weighs a lot down here and I have to train my neck muscles again first.”

Soon he will fly to the USA for debriefings. “After that I’ll take a little vacation – but after the summer break I’ll continue,” announced Maurer, who has another space flight in mind. “I hope that I will have the opportunity again – either to the ISS again or even to the moon.” Important insights could also be gained for a possible Mars mission on the earth’s satellite.