Astronomers find a tool bag lost in orbit

A tool bag that was lost on November 1 while working on the space station was found. It was photographed by amateur astronomers from the Virtual Telescope Project. According to scientists, it does not pose a threat to objects in orbit and will subsequently burn up in the atmosphere.

Tool bag. Source: Virtual Telescope Project

Lost Tool Bag

A network of Virtual Telescope Project enthusiasts could find the tool bag that was lost by astronauts from the International Space Station. It got into a photo taken on Wednesday, November 15. 

According to Gianluca Masi, one of the founders of the project, the image was obtained with a 2-second exposure. At the same time, the tool followed the moving bag, so it looks like a dot in the image, and the stars on the background look like dashes.

The tool bag was lost during a spacewalk on November 1 by astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Laurel O’Hara. Flight controllers noticed how it was flying away with the help of one of the ISS cameras. Fortunately, it didn’t matter for the completion of the work.

What will happen to the bag next

Astronauts are specially trained to move safely on the outer surface of the station. These skills also include methods of careful handling of everything they use during such walks. However, from time to time people still make mistakes.

For example, in 2008, NASA astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper was working on repairing a jammed solar panel mechanism on the ISS, and also lost the tool bag. Two years ago, NASA astronaut Piers Sellers lost a spatula in space while repairing a heat shield during the Discovery shuttle mission STS-121.

According to the calculations of scientists, the bag does not pose a threat to spacecraft. The US Space Force is tracking it as object 58229/1998-067WC. Now it has an orbit height of 415 km, but it is gradually decreasing. It is expected that in a few months it will enter the dense layers of the atmosphere and in a few months it will burn up at an altitude of about 113 km.

Threat of space debris

But astronauts still try not to throw things around in space. There are serious concerns that they will turn into space debris and damage some other object. Therefore, all of them are carefully monitored.

As the number of launches and satellites in orbit continues to grow, the potential of space debris is also growing. Models of the European Space Agency suggest that there may be about 130 million particles of space debris larger than a millimetre in space around the Earth. However, there are much fewer of them being tracked.

According to

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