Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
What does a comet smell like? © Getty Images

What does a comet smell like?

Published: 09th January, 2022 at 11:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Can’t blame this one on the dog…

The European Space Agency’s Philae lander analysed the chemical makeup of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The main constituents were odourless water vapour, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. But there were also traces of particularly pungent (and toxic) substances such as ammonia (which smells like urine), sulphur dioxide (burning matches), hydrogen cyanide (almonds) and hydrogen sulphide (rotten eggs).


In 2016, Dr Colin Snodgrass, a researcher at the Open University, UK, commissioned The Aroma Company to recreate the unpleasant scent to be impregnated in promotional postcards.

Read more: 

Asked by: Asked by: Grace Packard, Exeter


To submit your questions email us at (don't forget to include your name and location)



Sponsored content