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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.

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hugebear
hugebear posted in Family Issues:
You doesnt have to come out to your family until your ready and until they is ready too.  If you blurt it out it could be the shock.  You says that you think your Mums side of the family will be more supportive.  Has you got an Aunty or Uncle what you could discuss this with?  An adult member of your family what is most likely supportive  could probably give the best advises on how to tell your family and when and how and prepares you for how they will react. Good luck mate and takes your time :angel
reply about 3 hours
Mrawsomegamer
I think my mothers side of the family would be fine with it. It's my dad's side I'm most concerned about. My dad says some dreadfully terrible remarks about homosexual people. I think I'm not gunna tell him at all. Ever...  Either way. Thanks for the advice!
reply about 3 hours
Kirsteeeeen
If you don't think that you'll be in a safe situation (for example, your parents try to kick you out, or hurt you physically or emotionally) than you should definitely wait to tell them. I think you'll know when the time is right. We can't tell you how they'll react, but I bet you can sort of figure it out from how they feel and act about these topics.  Remember, you are not obligated to tell anybody at all. It's personal. Wait until you're for sure ready to tell them. And when you do, tell them the way in which it's easiest. Get your point across, offer resources, reassurance, and give them time. 
reply about 3 hours
Mrawsomegamer
Hey guys, so I do kinda have a personal issue, but I need to tell my family about it. Truth is, I'm not even sure how they'll even react. Very few of my friends know, only the ones I trust anyway... I'm gay. Or at least bisexual. I kinda had a thing for girls, but that was a long time ago. I think I'm fully gay. I have a very supportive boyfriend, who loves me with all his heart. But that's not what it's about; it's actually coming out to my family, whom I know some of them are quite homophobic. Homophobia runs in my family. Sorta...  It makes my stomach turn when I think about it. I sometimes look into the mirror, look at myself and think if my conscience suddenly made me decide I was gay, or if I was born with it. Science tells us that we are born that way, due to lack of man chemicals entering a boys brain when in development. I feel like I've chosen it (even though I know deep inside I haven't) to be gay, probably because of my family almost forcing me into getting a girlfriend and such. I come from a Catholic family, to make things even worse. I'm like the only practising person in my family, but somehow I feel that they'll use my Faith against me if I come out.  So, should I just wait until I'm older? How do I know when the time is right? How will they even react? How should I even say it?  Please help!
reply about 4 hours
Kirsteeeeen
Kirsteeeeen posted in Friends:
This thread has been moved. Click here to see the new thread.
reply about 5 hours

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