As staff sniffer at Nasa, George Aldrich holds surely one of the weirdest jobs, having spent nearly 40 years smelling any and every object before it goes into space.
A typical day of toxicity and odour
testing sees George sniffing books, hats, glues, watches and more, from everyday items to specialised space equipment.
While it might seem peculiar, Aldrich’s job is of vital importance, because even the smallest smell can hang around for years and years on a space station, and as the Science Channel explains in a profile of him, that not only affects the astronauts’ usefulness but can also make them sick.
“If George fails to identify just one problematic pong, a whole mission could be in jeopardy,” it notes.
“Here on the ground if there’s some kind of a foul odour – maybe someone was in the bathroom or cut an onion open – it eventually airs out,” Suzanna Harper, manager of Nasa’s nasal lab explains.
“What is causing that smell to go away is the dilution of additional air coming in, but when we’re in the space station or the shuttle there is no additional air, we can’t just open a window and get some fresh air in there.”
Aldrich has been working at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center sniffing things for 38 years now, admitting: “My friends and family think I’m a little crazy.”