We have always spoken about the surface, texture, size and the possible threat of a comet. But have we ever thought about how a comet smells like when it’s tearing around in space?
Scientists have discovered a new comet that possesses strong foul smell of horse stable (ammonia), of rotten eggs (hydrogen sulphide) and the pungent and very suffocating odor of formaldehyde.
The name of this foul smelling comet is 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The discovery was made by the scientists at the University of Bern in Switzerland through the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis that has been sniffing the fumes of the strange celestial body with the help of its two mass spectrometers.
The scientists said they had determined about the smell of the comet by analysing the chemicals in its coma, the fuzzy head that surrounds the nucleus.
According to the scientists, the strong smell of the comet is mixed with the bitter, faint and hydrogen cyanide’s almond-like aroma. The comet also has some hint of alcohol (methanol) along with the vinegar-like aroma of sulphur dioxide and a hint of the sweet aromatic scent of carbon disulphide.
Kathrin Altwegg, one of the study researchers from the Center of Space and Habitability (CSH) of the University of Bern, said that the study may help to understand the origin of the solar system material, the formation of Earth and overall the origin of life.
Project leader Altwegg said the study showed that the hint will get stronger as comet 67P gets closer to the sun. This will lead to release of more gas by the comet and formation of the coma characteristic of comets.