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Here's What the Moon Smells Like, according to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

Anyone can catch a glimpse of the moon by looking up at the night sky, but you can't get the full sensory experience without going up there yourself. And if you do, your nostrils will be in for a surprise.

For centuries, people thought the moon looked like a giant round of cheese, but it smells very different than an oversized cheddar. Neil Armstrong, who became the first person to walk on the moon 50 years ago today, once said that it smells like "wet ashes in a fireplace."

Meanwhile, Buzz Aldrin, who piloted the lunar module on the Apollo 11 mission - went into more detail, saying the moon gave off “a pungent metallic smell, something like gunpowder, or the smell in the air after a firecracker has gone off."

But to this day, NASA isn't sure why the moon smells like that. The chemical makeup of moondust and gunpowder have very little in common, so it's not like the moon is a giant powder keg in the sky.

Some think the moon's scent is a lingering trace of solar winds that came into contact with the lunar surface while coursing through the galaxy. But others aren't so sure abut that. And it's difficult to find out because the scent dissipates quickly. While on the moon, astronauts can't smell anything outside of their spacesuits. It's only when they bring moon rocks and dust into the module that they can get a whiff of the landscape outside. And the scent doesn't linger long enough to be studied back on earth. So until NASA invents a Ziploc bag for the space age, the moon's strange smell will remain a mystery. 


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