Mistake in outer space: A lost tool bag turned into an Earth’s satellite

A new artificial satellite has accidentally appeared in near-Earth orbit. This “satellite” turned out to be a bag of tools that slipped out of the hands of one of the astronauts. It happened during the recent exit of Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara outside the International Space Station (ISS). NASA politely avoids naming the person responsible for the loss.

NASA astronauts’ spacewalk. Photo: NASA

During the spacewalk on November 1, the astronauts were engaged in routine work on the outer surface of the orbital station when an unexpected error occurred: a bag of tools broke off and flew away in an unknown direction. 

Photos of astronauts: on the left — Loral O’Hara, on the right — Jasmin Moghbeli. Source: NASA

On Earth, gravity would cause the bag to fall. But if you are in microgravity, you will not even feel how heavy tools are quietly “running away” from you. 

Flying instruments at a speed of 28 thousand km/h

According to EarthSky, the bag of instruments is now moving around the Earth at a speed of 28 thousand km/h in a slightly higher orbit than the ISS. In the end, every object in such an orbit becomes potentially dangerous. Because of this, the bag was even added to the catalog of known artificial space objects under the number 58229/1998-067WC. Subsequently, even amateur astronomers noticed it: in the night sky, it has about the 6th magnitude, which allows you to observe it with binoculars or a small telescope under favorable conditions.

The commander of the ISS-70 expedition, Andreas Mogensen from the European Space Agency, helps NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli put on a spacesuit in preparation for the upcoming spacewalk. Photo: NASA

Fortunately, the tool bag that is currently orbiting the Earth probably does not pose a direct threat to the ISS or other spacecraft, since it is moving at a relatively high altitude. However, the growing amount of space debris in near-Earth orbits increases the risk of its collision with other objects and can cause damage.

Not the first case of tool loss

Lost tools in space are not uncommon. About half a dozen items were lost while working in outer space. The most famous case occurred in 2006, when an astronaut slipped a spatula, which four months later descended into the denser layers of the atmosphere and burned up over the Atlantic. 

Observations show that the tool bag will probably remain in orbit for several more months before it loses altitude and eventually burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the meantime, it continues to “pursue” the astronauts who missed it, reminding them that in space, even the smallest mistake can lead to extraordinary consequences.

Earlier we reported on how to find the ISS in the sky using a smartphone.

According to gizmodo.com

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