TECH

This Is What Rosetta's Comet Smells Like

12/11/2014 10:08 GMT | Updated 12/11/2014 10:59 GMT
J.HUART via Getty Images
NOORDWIJK, NETHERLANDS - JANUARY 1: Undated artistic sketch of Rosetta, the one billion-euro comet chasing space probe due to be launched in January 2003, whom the mission has been abandoned and a new mission will be found later, the European Space Agency (ESA) said 15 January 2003. Five or six other possible comets will be studied before a new target is selected, a decision likely not to be taken before the year's end. (Photo credit should read J.HUART/AFP/Getty Images)

Let's just be clear - a comet doesn't really 'smell' of anything. Were you to expose your nostrils to its odour in deep space, you would instantly freeze, boil, explode and very shortly after die.

But the chemical make-up of a comet has until now been relatively mysterious, and so discovering more precisely what they are made of can be revealing.

And yes, revealing about their smell.

So here we are - as the billion-euro Rosetta and Philae crafts currently in orbit around Comet 67P, make their final approach to land on its surface safely for the first time - this is what a comet... smells like: