NASA satellite spies bad breath from space
SUMMARY: The Staten Island Dump isn't the only smelly thing that can be seen from low Earth orbit. Recently, NASA spied a bad breath gas that was visible from space.
Posted: March 8, 2012
If your mind was blown by the recent news story about bad breath gases being good for stem cells, then you'll think this one is out of this world: NASA has announced that its satellites can spy halitosis gases from space.
The space administration recently said that they can actually see the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the air off of Africa's southwestern coast, specifically by Namibia. So what's causing it?
It isn't Namibians themselves. They don't have that much bad breath! In fact, those unfortunate folks have been smelling the H2S in the air for years. The website SpaceRef Interactive explained that reports of funky smells have been filtering out of Namibia for some time now. And all the specialty breath fresheners in the world haven't made a difference.
That's not due to any shortcomings on the part of specialty products. If anything, oxygenating, alcohol-free mouthrinses and toothpastes can cut any oral odor down to size. But this isn't a mouth problem; it's a marine one.
According to NASA, the H2S fouling the air off the coast of Africa is coming right out of the water. In effect, the Atlantic has bad breath. The organization spotted the gas using a special camera called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, which is mounted on NASA's Terra satellite.
Since the resulting photos are false-color, scientists cheekily chose a bright, toxic green to represent the gas we associate with bad breath.
Is there any particular reason that the ocean is so smelly there? Researchers believe that it's something of a perfect storm of oceanographic oddities: sluggish currents, oxygen-deprived water, sulfur-rich mineral deposits and oxygen-greedy plankton make the sulfur-loaded water emit tons of H2S. This environment is toxic for local fish.
And it probably goes without saying that, with a strong ocean breeze, the local humans can smell the ocean's bad breath from miles away.
So what can be done about this? Not all that much, really. Unlike the human mouth, which responds well to oxygenating, moistening, alcohol-free products, the Atlantic Ocean is a little too large to treat with even the most advanced oral rinse.
Instead, Namibians will have to be content with cleaning their teeth, wetting their palates and holding their noses.