Toolbag escapes the clutches of the astronauts and is now orbiting Earth

The bag was floating over Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain.

New Delhi:

A new celestial object has caught the attention of sky watchers: an instrument bag in space around Earth. During a rare all-female spacewalk carried out by NASA astronauts Jasmine Mogbeli and Laurel O’Hara on Nov. 1, their instrument bag slipped, NASA said. The astronauts, on their inaugural spacewalk, were making repairs to components that help the ISS solar arrays keep track of the Sun, as documented by SciTechDaily.

„During the mission, an instrument bag was inadvertently lost. Flight controllers located the instrument bag using external station cameras. The instruments were not required for the remainder of the spacewalk. Mission Control examined the bag’s trajectory and determined that the risk to re-communicating with the station was low and the crew on board and The space station is safe and no action is required,” NASA said on its blog.

The toolbag, like a white satchel, exudes a surprising brightness, just below the threshold of visibility to the naked eye. This brightness, according to Earthsky, is slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus, at about 6 visual magnitudes, allowing observers to spot it using binoculars. To track the bag, visitors can use NASA’s Spot the Station tool to spot the ISS, the third brightest object in the night sky. Pai orbits the Earth two to four minutes ahead of the ISS.

Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa spotted the bag floating over Mount Fuji last week, confirming its observation, astronaut Megan Christian noted. The lost instrument pouch is expected to remain in orbit for a few months. According to Earthsky, initial estimates suggest that the asteroid should re-enter the atmosphere in March 2024.

This incident is not the first time an object has been lost in space, nor is it the first case of a lost tool bag. In 2008, Heidemarie Stefanistein-Piper experienced a similar incident while attempting to repair a damaged part of the ISS, altering plans for subsequent space missions. Additionally, in 2006, astronaut Pierce Sellers lost his spatula while testing a heat shield repair technique.

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