NASA researchers have combined just the right “aromatic flavors” to recreate the air of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, to gain a better understanding of the chemical composition of atmospheres in other worlds, writes Nature World News.
According to Melissa Trainer, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, recreating the moon’s aromas has allowed a team of investigators to classify atmospheric materials previously discovered by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, writes Nature World News.
The researchers mixed the two most common gases in Titan—nitrogen and methane—and then added benzene and other chemicals. After many attempts they managed to develop a mixture that matched the spectral signature registered by Cassini.
“This is the closest anyone has come, to our knowledge, to recreating with lab experiments this particular feature seen in the Cassini data,” told Sebree to Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz.
Titan sort of reeks of farts mixed with methane. Melissa Trainer, who works at NASA’ Goddard Centre, explained that this moon smells of aromatics, a subfamily of hydrocarbons. Benzene belongs to this family, and Trainer thinks it has a “sweet, aromatic, gasoline-odour.”
The technique used is somewhat similar to the process candy manufacturers go through to create flavours, explained Graham Templeton at Geek, and can be used to smell other planets.
Scientists will keep on using this recipe to compile a list of planetary smells and come up with what Templeton described as an extra-terrestrial smell profile.