Science Sustainability

Beyond Earth: Discovering the Scent of Mars

What does Mars smell like? Nicolas Bonneville, perfumer at Firmenich, asked himself this mysterious question. He used four precious words from NASA as a starting point: earthy, mineral, volcanic, metallic. He then began to imagine the smell of the red planet.

In his interpretation, he uses an olfactive contrast to transport us somewhere between mineral and metallic, dusty and cold. The perfumer created the smell of the planet’s reddish earth through the use of two molecules called Irone Alpha and Ambrox®. He also added incense, reminiscent of a burning volcanic smell, while relying on everlasting flower to bring a dry powdery sensation representing the fine dust that covers the soil and remains suspended in the atmosphere. Finally, to embody the iron oxide prevalent on Mars’ surface, Nicolas added a hint of ginger, a note that is both vibrant and metallic.

Called, Utopia Planitiam, the fragrance is a raw olfactive creation that distills Mars’ strange beauty. This experimental, minimalist fragrance takes you deep into the heart of a fascinating planet beyond imagination.


“Moving to Mars”

The Design Museum’s critically acclaimed exhibition Moving to Mars is doing the first stop on its international tour at Tekniska Museet, the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology is a Swedish museum in Stockholm.

The exhibition is open until January 9, 2022.

Mars has been a source of fascination for humans for thousands of years, and our dreams of one day setting foot on the red planet may soon become a reality. The Design Museum in London has created an experience that transports you there using all your senses, where you can not only sense the smells, the light and the sand beneath your feet, but can also step inside a full-sized living space.

With the help of 150 objects from previous space missions (including originals from NASA, ESA and SpaceX) and prototypes for future Mars missions, the Design Museum’s exhibition tells the story of the great challenge of landing humans on Mars – perhaps the greatest adventure in the history of mankind. Every single aspect must be thought through in great detail – not only the 7-month long journey to get there, but also considerations regarding how we will be able to survive once we have arrived, the kinds of clothing we will need, what we will be able to eat, and how we will live.

A large part of our preparation for a life on Mars concerns exploring in the tiniest of detail how we will be able to make best use of the scarce resources, how to minimise the wasting of energy, water, food and refuse, and how we will stay alive in the planet’s hostile environment. The exhibition concludes by asking whether we actually will ever relocate to Mars, or whether the insights we have gained may instead be utilised in order to take better care of our home planet.

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