Monday, 12 March 2018

AromAtom - What Does Space Smell Like?

The idea of “giving back” is one that many companies attempt but, unfortunately, also one that can very easily miss the mark. In an era of “Corporate Social Responsibility” it’s become very fashionable to throw money at a cause and take the glory in a burst of publicity, but it’s much harder to create and manage a project that also has an educational aspect. The latest company to attempt this, undaunted, is Marina Barcenilla Parfums with their AromAtom project. Designed to educate and stimulate both children and adults in the field of astronomy using scent, just what DOES space smell like?

Marina Barcenilla is an award-winning perfumer who started her first company, The Perfumed Garden, in 2010. Originally beginning with a small but dedicated group of fans, it soon started to gain a loyal following as well as industry recognition. The company was rebranded Marina Barcenilla Parfums in November 2016, shortly after winning a Fragrance Foundation Award for the perfume India, and subsequently went on to win another award in 2017, this time for Black Osmanthus. When not creating scents Marina can be found studying the solar system, which brings us neatly back to AromAtom.

Throughout her studies Marina was constantly thinking, “What does space smell like?” She is quick to point out that it would actually be impossible to breathe in a lung full of another planet’s air, but that didn’t stop her from gathering all of the information that she could in order to make some educated, and a few playful, guesses. The chemical makeup of some planets is known, from probes and landings, but others were a little trickier. Just what do Saturn’s rings actually smell like? After consulting NASA, and some of the UK’s leading experts, Marina Barcenilla is ready to take us all into orbit.

The journey visits the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and the Rings of Saturn before we get a final overview of the Milky Way. Using materials to simulate the olfactive and visual conditions of each planet, Marina Barcenilla has essentially produced five fragrances that represent the surroundings and these are smelled during the session. From the almond enriched Jupiter to a Martian landscape of red iron oxide dust and chlorine, Marina Barcenilla has managed to make the scents palatable yet evocative. Some say that it’s not easy to make science fun but AromAtom shows that it can be done.

Whilst this is definitely a new way for perfume fans to fulfill their passion there is also another reason behind the project, and this is where Marina Barcenilla is truly “giving back”. She has set her sights on encouraging the UK’s next generation of stargazers. Marina is currently in the early stages of offering “Space Smells Like...” to schools in order to make learning and education more stimulating than just “reading, writing and ‘rithmetic”. Who knows, the next astrophysicist might get their first introduction to the vastness of space from a future AromAtom lesson.

In collaboration with The Perfume Society you can smell all of the planetary aromas at a special event on Thursday 15th March in London. Tickets are priced at £20 and can be purchased by clicking here. For more information about AromAtom you can also visit aromatom.org

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