News ID: 272861
Published: 0845 GMT August 14, 2020

Moonstruck 'aroma sculptor' builds scent from space

Moonstruck 'aroma sculptor' builds scent from space
AFP
Michael Moisseeff creates a world of aromas in his home laboratory near Toulouse, France.

He may never have pulled on a spacesuit or flown in a shuttle but that has not stopped Frenchman Michael Moisseeff from reaching for the stars.

After years of exploring and reconstructing the scents of planet Earth, the 66-year-old "aroma sculptor" set himself a new goal — capturing the smell of the Moon, according to AFP. 

Moisseeff, with his floral shirt and a head of white hair tied up at the back, straddles the line between artist and scientist as he moves purposefully around the thousands of vials that make up his laboratory. 

It is here that the trained geneticist fulfills his life's work of dissecting the mysteries of smell and producing all kinds of scents, fragrances and emanations from molecules. 

"To recreate the scent of undergrowth, for example, you have to go there first," he said. 

"Is there any moss? Lichen? Moisture? I take an inventory and bring my elements together like a painter with his palette of colors. Then I work on the measures of each to try as best I can to finesse the scent." 

Unfortunately the Moon is not quite as accessible as the undergrowth and the Cite de l'Espace (Space City) in Toulouse "did not want to pay for the trip", jokes Moisseeff.

The only way he could build a picture of the scent in his nose — the key tool for his work — was to read up on descriptions made by various astronauts who walked on the Moon, in particular Neil Armstrong, the first man ever to do so in 1969.

"Due to the lack of oxygen on the Moon, he (Armstrong) obviously couldn't smell anything but once back in the module, the smell of dust clinging to his spacesuit reminded him of the burnt black powder of an old six-shooter," he said.

 
   
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