- Something is flying right in front of the ISS
- And earthlings made it
The special bag with tools, which was lost by the NASA crew and has been floating in space since then, is surprisingly easy to see even with just a telescope, writes The Space server.
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NASA briefcase flies through space
The stars, planets, nebulae and galaxies that are usually the target of astronomers’ observations were recently surprisingly joined by a toolbox that floats undisturbed in space around the Earth. A special bag slipped from the hands of NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, who were performing an ascent into free space outside the International Space Station (ISS).
According to EarthSky, the suitcase orbits just ahead of the ISS and has a visual brightness of magnitude 6. That means it’s only slightly less bright than the ice giant Uranus. As a result, the bag – officially known as the crew lock bag – is somewhat too faint to be visible to the naked eye, but astronomy enthusiasts can spot it with just a telescope.
An ordinary telescope is enough
If you want to see it with your own eyes, first find out when the International Space Station will fly over where you live (for example, this page can be used for this). You should observe the briefcase two to four minutes before the ISS flyby.
Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CfA) astronomer Jonathan McDowell revealed that it circles Earth in an orbit measuring roughly 415 by 416 kilometers. And he added that it also received its own categorization in the system of cataloging artificial objects in orbit of the US Space Force with the official designation 58229 / 1998-067WC.
However, it is definitely not the strangest object that has found itself in Earth’s orbit. That honor goes to the humble spatula. The late NASA astronaut Piers Sellers lost a well-known tool when he was using it to spread heat shield repair material during space shuttle Discovery’s STS-121 flight in 2006.
Preview photo source: NASA, source: EarthSky, Space