Many astronauts have reported that upon returning from a spacewalk, their spacesuits smell of what can only be described as “barbecue”. Amazingly, the very compounds released by burning wood, charcoal within a fire, and meat that’s been cooked over a fire are the very same chemical compounds released by dying stars: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
These free-floating compounds travel through space and cling to space suits, hence the smell of barbecue once returning to the space station.
All Work and Lots of Play
All space programs make provision for serious downtime for astronauts. The mental stress of the environment itself, besides the work, means that an astronaut requires very essential hours of personal downtime.
As there is nowhere to go on the space station, astronauts spend their leisure hours pretty much the same as any Earthling would – playing cards, calling their families back home, reading books, and, of course, admiring the view.
With no flowing water in space, how can clothes get cleaned? The short answer is there has never been a washing machine in space. Every item of clothing taken up and worn by astronauts has been worn until it becomes too dirty to handle.
At this point, it is stored in a cargo container and is usually incinerated with the container upon entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Tide has developed a unique detergent that will be used in future space missions to ensure fresh, clean clothing.
Socks Make for Good Neighbors
The soles of feet toughen up nicely on earth due to being pressured against the ground for most of our waking day. In doing so, the skin becomes thicker. In space, where there is no walking at all to be done, the skin on the soles of astronauts’ feet becomes very, very soft and begins to flake incredibly quickly and easily.
As a courtesy, astronauts keep their socks on at almost all times as removing them could release a cloud of dead skin cells sloughed off from their softening soles.
Spoons Are Almost Impossible in Space
Earthlings take for granted so many things that are made possible with gravity. When you take it away, it creates a near-impossible environment within a space station. Spoons can barely hold the same volume of food as on earth and using them is a balancing act.
Just the right amount of food must be scooped and if an astronaut raises the spoon too quickly, all the contents will quickly go flying. The same goes for if one astronaut bumps another. Truly a case of no elbows on the table.