WCTM / nasa.gov
Only 12 men walked on the moon until today. Beside all the samples and pictures that came back from the lunar surface one big question wasn’t answered for a very long time. When the astronauts returned from their moonwalks back into the atmosphere of the landing module and took off their helmets they instantly reported a strong and unknown smell.
A chemical reaction between moondust on their space suits and the oxygen in the capsule.
»It is really a strong smell.
It has that taste – to me, gunpowder
– and the smell of gunpowder, too.«
Charlie Duke, Apollo 16, 1972 (Lunar Surface Journal, 126:10:46)
In 2010 Sue Corke (UK) and Hagen Betzwieser (Stuttgart, Germany) AKA artists WE COLONISED THE MOON (WCTM) commissioned the chemist Steve Pearce to produce for them an exclusive and unique fragrance which became known through their work as THE SMELL OF THE MOON.
Based on their research and the reports of the Apollo astronauts, Pearce manufactured a smokey smell redolent of spent fireworks or burned metal.
In their installations, printed and performance work, the smell was consistently deployed as a conversation starter, a catalyst to the experience and description of a place, visitors could only access in their imagination.
Gene Cernan, Apollo 17, covered in moondust. nasa.gov
».. it even has the astronaut seal of approval, with Buzz Aldrin describing the aroma as similar to that of his own experience.«
Wired.co.uk, Jan 6, 2012
»Apollo 14 lunar module pilot
Edgar D. Mitchell, confirmed to AOL News that the moon smells like gunpowder, possibly because of the composition of basalt rock from ancient lava flows«,
AOL NEWS, Oct 21, 2011
»NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Communication
Bob Jacobs tweeted
The makers of MOON, scratch & sniff sent a couple to our office.
Mine now smells like it has a fireplace.«,
Twitter, Oct 8, 2010
Part of the exhibition Republic of the Moon
December 2011 – February 2012, FACT, Liverpool, UK
Moondust fragrance created for WCTM by perfumer
Steven Pearce of Omega Ingredients Ltd.
Additional Astronaut Performers
Hayley Nicola Fielding
Additional spacesuit customisation
Photo / Video Hagen Betzwieser
ENTER AT OWN RISK was commissioned by
BBC News In pictures: Republic of the Moon
BBC Material World Artists in Liverpool are preparing to launch a new exhibition that imagines how we might live on the Moon. Ahead of the exhibition's lift-off, Quentin speaks to curator Rob le Frenais and artist Sue Corke about making scratch 'n' sniff lunar postcards and training geese to be astronauts – all in the name of art, of course.
FACT Republic of the Moon, London
No. 16, Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal, 2016
LIVE MOON SMELLINGS
»Boy, is that the lunar dust that smells so funny?! You think?«
Charlie Duke, Apollo 16, 1972 (Lunar Surface Journal, 126:53:07)
No. 01. 2012 ACC Gallery, Weimar
No. 02. 2012 Villa Rosenthal, Jena
No. 03. 2012 EB&Flow Gallery, London
No. 04. 2012 Halle14, Spinnerei, Leipzig, part of the exhibition »On Dilettantism«
No. 05. 2013 KOSMICA Mexico, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), Mexico City
No. 06. 2014 HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts, FAST
No. 07. 2014 KOSMICA, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank, London
No. 08. 2013 Hong Kong, MICROWAVE FESTIVAL
No. 09. 2014 Altana Galerie, Dresden
No. 10. 2015 Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart
No. 11. 2016 Neuer Kunstverein, Wuppertal
No. 12. 2016 Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit (VU)
No. 13. 2016 ISU Int. Space University, Strasbourg, France, MMS16
No. 14. 2017 HELLERAU – European Centre for the Arts, Springhouse
No. 15. 2017 ISU, Space UP
No. 16. 2017 ISU, Moon Village Workshop
No. 17. 2017 ISU Int. Space University, Strasbourg, France, MMS17
Since 2018 even HELIUM FREE (done with a tiny toy drone)
No. 18. 2018 ISU Int. Space University, Strasbourg, France, MMS18
No. 19. 2019 ISU Int. Space University, Strasbourg, France, MMS19
No. 20. 2020 ISU Int. Space University, Strasbourg, France, MMS20
Massive LIVE Moon Smelling (#4)
2012, 100 (30 cm) Balloons
Halle14, Spinnerei, Leipzig
as part of the exhibition »On Dilettantism«
Halle14 / Robert Beske // Shrine-Production
Moondust fragrance created for WCTM by perfumer
Steven Pearce of Omega Ingredients Ltd
Sue Corke before a LIVE MOON SMELLING
KOSMICA, Mexico City
»Thanks for your talks at ISU (Int. Space University, Strasbourg)
… your »smell of the moon« was quite inspirational and one of the most memorable lectures we had!«
Scott Ritter, ISU graduate
First LIVE MOON SMELLING done with a tiny toy drone.
Photo Prof. Chris Welch, ISU Int. Space University, 2017
TIME TO MOVE ON
After many years of designing and building artworks, installations, and performances, blood, sweat and tears, it’s time to realise our investment in our creative capital and work and bring you THE SMELL OF THE MOON on an even larger and more accessible scale, to enjoy at home...
Since 2019 we have been working hard on the concept of
turning our scent into a new product.
You may never go but you will always remember
FOR ALL MANKIND
more very soon!