Skywatchers have a new space object to practice on: a tool bag that now floats in space around Earth.
NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara were conducting a rare all-female spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on November 1 when their tool bags failed, according to the NASA.
The astronauts, both on their first spacewalk, were making repairs to assemblies that allow the ISS’s solar panels to continuously track the sun, reported SciTechDaily, which documented the spacewalk.
“During the activity, a tool bag was inadvertently lost. Flight controllers spotted the tool kit using the station’s external cameras. The tools were not needed for the remainder of the spacewalk. Mission Control analyzed the bag’s trajectory and determined that the risk of recontacting the station is low and that the crew on board and the space station are safe and no action is required,” NASA said on his blog.
The white satchel-shaped bag is surprisingly bright, shining just below the limit of visibility with the naked eye, meaning observers could spot it using binoculars, according to EarthSky. Its visual magnitude is around 6, making it slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus.
To track the bag, observers need only find the ISS, which is the third brightest object in the night sky, according to NASA, and can be located using the Spot the Station tool of the agency. The bag will orbit the Earth two to four minutes ahead of the ISS.
The bag was spotted floating above Mount Fuji last week by Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.
Astronaut Meganne Christian confirmed he was being tracked.
The lost spacecraft is expected to remain in orbit for a few months before quickly descending and meeting its end in the fiery hell that is Earth’s atmosphere. According to EarthSky, preliminary estimates indicate that the toolkit is expected to re-enter the atmosphere around March 2024.
This is not the first time an object has been lost in space, or even the first lost tool kit. In 2008, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper saw his bag drift away while trying to repair a damaged part on the ISS. The loss of this bag caused mission controllers to change their plans for the remaining spacewalks planned during the Space Shuttle Endeavor mission.
And, in 2006, the late astronaut Piers Sellers lost his spatula in the depths of space while testing a technique for repairing a heat shield, according to Space.com. Sellers, who used the tool to spread the sticky heat shield on intentionally damaged samples, lamented the loss at the time: “It was my favorite patch…don’t tell the other spatulas.” »