back to article COMET 67P is basically TRAILING a HORRIFIC STENCH through space

The Rosetta probe that is orbiting comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko is mainly preoccupied with firming up its plans for landing on the surface: however, there's still science to be done – and boffins have been taking a sniff at how the space snowball smells. For the last two months, the Rosetta Orbiter Sensor for Ion and …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Missed Cyanide?

    That should be "hydrogen cyanide", not hydrogen. Hydrogen itself does not smell.

    This has the stench of a chemical lab after forgetting some secondary schoolers in it with the reagent cubbard unlocked.

    Otherwise, this so far fits most life formation hypothesis. If you take this mixture and autoclave it for a while you will get some of the basic aminoacids (in a L-R mix) as a result.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Missed Cyanide?

      If you take this mixture and autoclave it for a while you will get some of the basic aminoacids (in a L-R mix) as a result.

      Shhh! You'll upset the Creationists.

      1. adnim Silver badge

        @Rich 11 .. Re: Missed Cyanide?

        The Universe created life then life created gods.. I don't see the problem with creationism.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Missed Cyanide?

      Yeah yeah, it written and edited at 6pm PT and we were tired. It's been fixed. Next time, please email so it can be fixed immediately rather than a day later.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enable Jack Russell mode

    Whip round the back and sniff under it's tail.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Comets - Gas - Bad smell

    Comets are farting across space....!

    [Deity] has a sense of humour.

  4. Thomas 4


    You are sniffing something's arse. What the heck did you think it was going to smell of - fresh flowers and pine needles?!

    1. Chris Miller

      Which reminds me

      There once was a man from Austrahlia

      Who tattooed his arse with a dahlia.

      The colour was fine

      Likewise the design

      But the odour, alas, was a fahlia.

  5. Rustident Spaceniak

    Go away 67P!

    We don' need no stinkin' comets round here.

  6. Unicornpiss Silver badge

    It stinks..

    ..on ice.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey scientists

    You should be looking for the animal that defecates these comets!

  8. John Tserkezis

    Don't let the australian politicians know...

    "the vast majority of the material boiling off Churyumov–Gerasimenko is water and carbon dioxide."

    Don't let the australian politicians know...

    They'll bring back the carbon tax.

  9. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    A French comet?

    It farts in our general direction.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I bet comets are crap sent out of the spaceship by the little green aliens

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Comets as coprolite..

      That would be a truly brilliant way to discover alien life: scat ejected from the airlock and frozen for billions of years.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Comets...

      I would think judging by the size of a comet, that it would be really BIG green aliens.

  11. Nigel 11

    Hydrogen Sulphide doesn't stink

    Really pure Hydrogen Sulphide is almost as odour-free as hydrogen cyanide. Also about the same toxicity. In both cases you may smell them just before it's too late, or not, as the case may be.

    What gives the game away here on Earth is trace amounts of Hydrogen Telluride (one of the most potently foul-smelling things known to man) and Hydrogen Selenide (less potent, but equally disgusting, and far more abundant). It's almost impossible to get these contaminants down to a nasally undetectable level. (Incidentally, Selenium is essential to mammalian and most other forms of life, so anything arising from anaerobic decay of once-living matter will contain H2Se )

    1. Chemist

      Re: Hydrogen Sulphide doesn't stink

      "Really pure Hydrogen Sulphide is almost as odour-free as hydrogen cyanide."

      Do you have a ref. for that ? AFAIK pure hydrogen sulphide is detectable by its smell at ~ 1ppm but at higher concentrations the smell is less or indeed undetectable. I've personally experienced this as walking into a lab full of people I could smell hydrogen sulphide (initially) when the entire room full of staff told me they had smelt it 'a few minutes earlier' but it was 'OK' now. I got them all out into the corridor, tested the air ( with a draeger tube) and the concentration was ~100ppm. A leaking rubber tube was the the cause even though the kit was in a good fume-cupboard.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Hydrogen Sulphide doesn't stink

        No don't have a ref. It was a university chemistry lecturer about 30 years ago told me that ultrapure H2S was almost odourless and almost impossible to make. It sounded plausible. I assumed he had personal experience.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Hydrogen Sulphide doesn't stink

          Off the top of my head I suspect you may be be slightly mis-remembering ... pure *methane* doesn't smell, but tends to contain contaminants that make it very smelly. (In the case of domestic gas, they actually add ethanethiol (ethyl mercaptan) or other sulfur compounds because non-smelly gas leaks are dangerous!) I think H2S does smell (but, when pure, not nearly as badly as people think - those are (similar) contaminants).

          You are absolutely right about it being extremely toxic though.

          1. Grikath Silver badge

            Re: Hydrogen Sulphide doesn't stink

            Actually both cases are true..

            Humans can smell pure H2S at as low as 1ppm initially. The human nose, however, adapts rapidly to the smell, so that after the initial whiff it's quite possible not to smell the stuff up to near-lethal levels. The same more or less goes for cyanide gas.

            This is why people wear detectors on hazardous sites ( like on or near a primary precipitation tanks or anaerobic reactors under maintenance on water treatment sites) and gtfo when the things start to beep, even if the odour is not ..less bad.. than usual.

            [insert mandatory reference to the Smell of Ankh-Morpork here]

  12. Trainee grumpy old ****

    Lapse in El-Reg editing standards?

    But scientists are intrigued by the mix of stuff coming off the comet.

    Wot no boffins?

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to rethink the old one-liner?

    In space, no-one can smell your fart.

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Time to rethink the old one-liner?

      Except the one in your space suit - be afraid, be very afraid!

      1. usbac

        Re: Time to rethink the old one-liner?

        Another reason you don't want to fart in a space suit...

  15. Vociferous

    On the subject of Rosetta... DEFINITELY want to see this!

  16. Martin Budden

    "Even though its perfume may not be Chanel No 5."

    The flip side to is comment is that it *may* be Chanel No 5. They do put some stinky-arse stuff in that.

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