close
Sunday May 26, 2024

Nasa astronauts' lost tool bag in space can be viewed with binoculars — Here's how

Nasa's non-threatening bag was spotted floating over Mount Fuji, earlier this month

By Web Desk
November 20, 2023
A still from the grainy footage of the errant toolkit, which can be spotted with binoculars. — VTP/File
A still from the grainy footage of the errant toolkit, which can be spotted with binoculars. — VTP/File

If you happen to spot a shooting star in the sky, pay close attention — it might be the tool bag that Nasa astronauts Loral O'Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli lost grip of earlier this month while performing maintenance work outside the International Space Station (ISS), according to Space.com.

The European Space Agency's (ESA) reserve astronaut, Meganne Christian, shared a little video clip showing the equipment drifting out.

Don't worry because Nasa officials confirmed that O'Hara and Moghbeli completed their spacewalk without any further incidents, and experts determined that the trajectory of the tool bag was not a threat to the space station or its crew.

However, the non-threatening bag was spotted floating over Mount Fuji, earlier this month. A grainy image of the tool bag was captured by the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP), which can be spotted with binoculars.

"The object looks like a sharp dot of light in the centre, as the telescope tracked it, so stars left long trails on the background," VTP founder Gianluca Masi wrote on his site.

"It was even given its own tracking ID, 58229/1998-067WC, in the US system for cataloguing artificial objects in orbit," tweeted Jonathan McDowell, a scientist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

According to Space.com, the bag will keep orbiting for a few months before reentering Earth's atmosphere at a height of roughly 70 miles, at which point it will burn up. It was around 250 miles above the surface of the earth as of last week.

It is predicted to explode in a violent descent sometime between March and July of 2024, EarthSky reported.

For the time being, curious onlookers can point their binoculars upward and see if they can locate the stray tool bag if they are looking in the same direction as the ISS. 

About five to ten minutes ahead of the station is where projections put it.

This is not the first time nor the first tool bag spacewalkers have contributed to the growing collection of space junk, according to Forbes.

A $100,000 toolbox was lost in orbit in 2008, and astronaut Piers Sellers misplaced a spatula, which he jokingly called his "favourite spatch", during a heat-shield material test on a spaceship only two years prior.

Most recently, a fabric shield — described as an essential component of the ISS —was lost to the vacuum of space in 2017 during a spacewalk.