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NASA Sniffer

For some jobs it's up to dogs to smell danger. At NASA it's up to George Aldrich to put his nose to work and sniff out any problems. He's in charge of 25 people who have to smell everything that goes into space. George tells New Scientist Magazine that smells change in space and once you're up there you're stuck with them. He works in the New Mexico desert and smells everything from sneakers to adult diapers.

Why He's Gotta Smell It All

Things smell different in space because of the confined space and the heat. "Think of a new car," explains George. "If you parked it in normal weather with the window open, that new car smell would be there in the background. But if you parked it in the sun on a sweltering day with the windows up, then the smell would be pretty overpowering. You'd be speeding up the evaporation of the chemicals."

George smells anything that goes inside a space shuttle. Here are a list of some of the things he's smelled: paints, magic markers, socks, shaving cream, tennis shoes, deodorized and non-deodorized tampons, adult diapers, a guitar and the case and toy animals like Chuckie Bear and Barney. FYI - astronauts wear diapers when they are out doing space walks and other circumstances where they just might need one. "We rejected some mascara from Sally Ride. She was the first American female astronaut and we tested a lot of things for her," says George.

Smell... I Mean Sound Appealing?

Does this job smell... I mean sound appealing? George explains how he became a NASA sniffer. "I never really thought much about whether I had a good sense of smell. I started with NASA in the fire department when I was 18. I was young and healthy and they asked me to be on their Odor Panel. I've now done 744 'smell missions' over 100 more than anyone else," explains George.

To get the job he had to pass a special physical. "You can't have any allergies or respiratory problems and they frown on high blood pressure. NASA wants healthy test subjects and if you have a lot of allergies your nasal passages are already irritated and cannot be used. And then you have to be able to smell. We have what we call the "10-bottle test": seven of them have odors and three of them are blanks. We have to certify our noses every three months like this."

Being a professional sniffer might make a few people chuckle but the job is very important. "For all the money it takes to get the shuttle off the ground, it's pointless if they have to abort the mission because of an odor inside the capsule," says George. "It is even more important because of the space station. The shuttle will be regularly supplying the astronauts up there with fresh supplies and taking away all their waste. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it was important."

So what does George's business card say? "I call myself a nasal-naut. I've got a picture of the shuttle with the solid rocket boosters and my daughter has drawn a little skunk. Right in the middle it says: "If something smells in the space programme I'll be there to get wind of it."

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What Wouldn't You Smell?

  • Dirty diapers.
  • Moldy food.
  • My dad's armpits.
  • I would smell anything for money.

Dear Dish-It In The Forums

Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in Friends:
I hope you don't mind that I moved this to friends, but I thought it'd be more fitting since your question seems mainly friendship based. :) Do you mind being younger than your classmates? Do you feel it inhibits your school experience? I think you should do what feels best to you, whether that be staying behind because friendship has a big impact, or continuing ahead if you prioritize academic growth. Only you know what's right for you. :p If it's any help, I left high school early and went to college. I was already used to being the youngest in my class so it wasn't a huge jump socially, and I found a lot of friends of all ages. :D With that being said, I do still miss being with people my age but it's too late to go back and I wouldn't trade my experience for the world.
reply about 13 hours
YassenGregorovich
I'm 13 and will be going on to 9th grade. I skipped kindergarted  :p and 5th grade. So I'm a lot younger then most of my classmates will be. I'm thinking of repeating 8th grade so I will be more of the same age as the other people in my class. But I'm not sure if I should because I got a B+ or A- average in 8th grade. I need some advice on this. Sorry if this is the wrong section for this I just thought general was the right place. Thanks!  :D
reply 1 day
aftershock
aftershock posted in Style:
Thanks all of you guys for your responses. It seems many of you don't share pics to get help from friends when you're choosing. Thats OK. If anyone does want to go on the VIP list to be the first to try the new app then feel free to complete the info form here: http://goo.gl/forms/FOiKWa4DoAQHxtOx1 
reply 1 day
CoolerThanMyself
I'm a 12 year old girl with really strict parents! I do chores( even handling BLEACH sometimes) , I take care of my little brother, I'm in top set for all my classes- even on the gifted and talented register and I've only ever had 1 detention- and that was their fault anyway bc I was late( they drive). But, I'm still NEVER allowed out with my friends! My friends are all in top sets as well, are well behaved and all we literally would do is window shopping. I mean, there are my age smoking shisha and doing #####- they should be lucky I'm not a delinquent! But my parents always say I can't hang out. Not because they're worried about my safety, they just dont want me to go out.! Even sleepovers, my parents always say no because they ' haven't met the parents" but they make NO effort to do so. I'm losing out on knowing my friends better and whilst they're all making best friends, at school I'm just the person in the background- the left out friend. It hurts and most of the time I wish I was fostered or something. How can I make them loosen up? ( don't say anything about sneaking out because I chose life)
reply 3 days
Corps
Corps posted in Style:
Thank You Mate :)
reply 3 days