Professor Hubert Farnsworth: I’m sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all.
Fry: Oh. What’s it called now?
Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Urrectum. Here, let me locate it for you.
Fry: No, no, I, I think I’ll just smell around a bit over here.
Too bad that Futurama’s smell-o-scope doesn’t actually exists.
Why is it too bad? Because space is filled with many different types of atoms, including Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Hydrogen: the elements essential to terrestrial life. In space, these sometimes appear in isolation, they sometimes appear in toxic combinations (like hydrogen cyanide), and they sometimes appear as simple organic molecules, like sugars, alcohols, and esters. (Amino acids may yet be there, but we haven’t discovered them yet!)
Sagittarius B2 is less than 400 light years from the galactic center. They found over 50 chemical compounds there, but one of the most interesting? Ethyl formate, which we typically form on Earth by reacting ethyl alcohol (the alcohol found in wine, beer, and liquor) with formic acid (which is commonly produced by ants and bees). The chemical compound is pretty simple, and looks like this:
Yes, it’s an organic molecule, but we produce these in space all the time. What’s particularly interesting about Ethyl Formate? It’s what gives Rum its smell, and give Raspberries their flavor!
And that’s at least, partially, what our galaxy smells like! Any Andromedans out there reading this? We smell like Raspberries and Rum! I have no idea what you smell like, but in comparison, I bet you stink compared to us!
So the next time someone wonders what space smells like, you can not only tell them, you can tell them where to go to smell it!