NewsA lost bag soaring above the Islands. An exceptional object in space

A lost bag soaring above the Islands. An exceptional object in space

During a spacewalk from the international station, the astronauts lost a bag of tools.
During a spacewalk from the international station, the astronauts lost a bag of tools.
Images source: © NASA

2:37 PM EST, November 20, 2023

With nothing more than a good pair of binoculars or an amateur telescope, you can feel exceptionally close to the cosmos. This week, an intriguing object in the celestial sphere is set to catch the attention of UK-based sky-gazers. A misplaced tool bag, part of the International Space Station's (ISS) equipment, will be clearly visible without the need for highly specialized equipment.

The station's crew accidentally jettisoned the tool bag during a routine spacewalk. The incident occurred while NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara conducted external maintenance work on the ISS.

"Flight controllers noticed the tool bag through external cameras. The tools weren't required for the remainder of the spacewalk," NASA disclosed in November.

The misplaced object is now in low-Earth orbit. NASA has reassured that the risk of the tools potentially hitting the International Space Station is minor.

"Mission Control analyzed the bag's trajectory and determined that the risk of re-contact with the station is low. The onboard crew and the space station are safe, and no actions are required," the agency reported on social media.

The Lost Astronauts' Tool Bag Orbiting Earth Can Be Seen from Home

According to a report by NBC News, Dave Dickinson, author of "The Backyard Astronomer's Field Guide: How to Find the Best Objects the Night Sky Has to Offer," revealed on website X that the tool bag makes its orbit approximately a minute before the space station. The object has sparked curiosity as our new artificial "star".

Dickinson further noted that the tool bag has a star brightness of +6. Though this may make it slightly tricky to spot with the naked eye, it is visible in the night sky with binoculars. Sky-gazers aiming to locate the tool bag in its orbit will need a clear night.

Dr. Meganne Christian, an astronaut, shared a video on Twitter showing the passage of the bag over Mount Fuji in Japan to offer a visual idea of what to expect.

The British publication, "The Telegraph," recommends planning a stargazing session featuring the bag on a Tuesday night. The newspaper claims that the object can be spotted in the night sky even by the naked eye at this time - resembling a fast-moving airplane. However, having a device to witness this unusual spectacle in all its glory would still be ideal.

The tool bag is predicted to be visible from different parts of Earth in the night sky for several months. After that, its orbit will slowly decrease until it eventually descends towards our planet.

Nevertheless, there's no cause for worry about the astronaut's equipment landing on someone's head. NASA assures that most likely, much like other low-orbit objects, such as spent rocket parts and small satellites, the bag will burn up in the atmosphere, posing no threat to Earth's inhabitants.

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