"A bit charcoal-esque with hints of eggy sulphur? No idea actually considering the Apollo crews said 'spent gunpowder' but the composition on the Moon is mainly silicon with some iron". Dr Louisa Preston, UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology.

We actually have an idea of what Moon dust smells like, thanks to the Apollo Astronauts that visited our satellite.

During moonwalks, Moon dust particles clang onto the space suits, gloves and boots of astronauts. After returning to the safety of the lunar module and taking off their helmets, moonwalkers noticed the smell of this dust. Astronaut Gene Cernan, who was the last man to walk on the Moon, said that Moon dust smelled like spent gunpowder, and remarked "smells like someone just fired a carbine in here."

So how did we create this smell? With a traditional way of capturing fragrance called enfleurage that uses cold fat to absorb aromatic molecules from the air. We set up to create an enfleurage extract of gunpowder smoke in an attempt to produce a faithful recreation of the smell reported by moonwalkers.

However, it is important to note that Moon dust is nothing like gun powder. According to NASA, “almost half is silicon dioxide glass created by meteoroids hitting the moon. These impacts, which have been going on for billions of years, fuse topsoil into glass and shatter the same into tiny pieces. Moondust is also rich in iron, calcium and magnesium bound up in minerals such as olivine and pyroxene.” So the artistic side of us, we are perfumers after all, was inspired to create a Moon fragrance consisting of dry, dusty and mineral notes.

Both the gunpowder smoke enfleurage and the Moon fragrance can be smelled during the AromAtom exhibition, and small vials of the Moon fragrance will be available for purchase in the near future.

Read more about the smell of the Moon HERE.

 

MORE ABOUT THE MOON

12 astronauts walked on the Moon during the Apollo programme (1969 – 1972)

Average distance from Earth: 384,400 km

Orbit and rotation period: 27.3 Earth Days

Equatorial radius: 1,737.5 km

Mass: 0.0123 of Earth's

Surface gravity: 1.62 m/s2

Mean density: 3.34 kg/cm3

Escape velocity: 2.38 km/s

Surface temperature range: -233 to 123 °C

The Moon has no atmosphere so the lunar surface is unprotected from solar winds, cosmic rays and meteorites. This also means  that no sound can be heard on the Moon!

Major chemical elements in the upper lunar crust: O, Si, Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, Ti. The moon is depleted in water and volatile elements such as Na and K, which are only found in very small quantities. Other chemical elements are present in tiny amounts of parts per thousand or even parts per million.

Main lunar rock forming minerals: plagioclase, pyroxene, olivine and ilmenite .

Learn more about the Moon with the European Space Agency HERE