Nugget of Knowledge: Moon dust stinks

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Len Rome's Daily Feature of Little Known Facts

(WYTV) – The moon stinks.

We didn’t know that until we flew there.

The dozen astronauts who landed there all tracked lots of moon dust back into their lunar landers, and when they removed their helmets, they all smelled it.

Neil Armstrong thought moon dust smelled like wet ashes. Buzz Aldrin said it was like the smell in the air after a firecracker goes off.

To Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17, it was exactly like gunpowder.

NASA had anticipated the dust. It was clingy and irritating. Armstrong and Aldrin slept with their helmets on to avoid breathing it while they rested on the moon.

The smell was a surprise. There was nothing chemically in moon dust and rock that would make it smell like gunpowder, but exposing it to air triggered it, and the odor vanished on the way back to Earth. NASA scientists could smell nothing at all.

Today, moon rocks have no odor. Only six men on the moon have ever smelled it — no one else — and it was so unique that they never smelled it again.

A final thought on Apollo 11 — the chief of the astronaut corps at the time, Deke Slayton, said that if Gus Grissom had not died in the Apollo One fire in 1967, he would have chosen Grissom to command the first flight to the moon.

We would be honoring Gus today.

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