In a peculiar turn of events, a tool bag lost by NASA astronauts during a spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) has become an unexpected spectacle in Earth's orbit. The tool bag, once a crucial part of the astronauts' equipment, has transformed into a bright and intriguing anomaly visible even with binoculars.
The mishap occurred on November 2, 2023, during a spacewalk conducted by NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara. As the astronauts were performing maintenance on the ISS's solar panels, the tool bag slipped from their grasp, setting it adrift in the vast expanse of space.
Astronomy enthusiasts and skywatchers have been captivated by this unexpected addition to the night sky. According to experts, the tool bag's brightness rivals that of a 6th-magnitude star, making it observable through binoculars.
The tool bag now orbits the Earth slightly ahead of the ISS, following a trajectory that has allowed terrestrial observers to witness its passage. Tracking its movement, astronomers have noted that it gradually pulls away from the ISS, currently leading by approximately 5 minutes. By mid-November, this time difference is expected to double.
As for the fate of this celestial misplaced luggage, it is projected to remain in Earth's orbit for several more months. Currently orbiting at altitudes ranging from 415 to 416 kilometers, it is slowly descending. Eventually, it will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, where it is anticipated to disintegrate. This re-entry is predicted to occur between March and July of 2024.