Two astronauts lost a tool bag while doing maintenance work outside the International Space Station earlier this month. Now it’s floating along through space near the ISS.
Maj. Jasmine Moghbeli and engineer Loral O’Hara took care of some routine maintenance on Nov. 1 during a nearly 7-hour spacewalk, their first of the mission. Once they got back inside they noticed their tool bag was nowhere in sight, according to the New York Times. The satchel-sized toolbox floated away and is now orbiting Earth a few minutes ahead of the spacecraft and should be visible by amateur night sky observers with a good pair of binoculars. Photographers who are quick on the trigger could be able to grab a photo of the unusually bright object by using a fast telephoto lens and NASA’s Spot the Station tool. The wayward object will be the third-brightest object in the sky if you know where to look up, the website said.
You can also download the mobile application of Spot the Station and sign up for helpful email alerts about when the ISS is near your location. The station is visible with the naked eye, and the tool kit will be just under the naked-eye visibility range not far in front of it.
This is not the first piece of equipment to be lost off the space station. In 2006, NASA astronaut Pierce Sellers dropped a spatula while applying “heat-resistant slime” to the ISS, according to NPR.
“That was my favorite ‘spatch” Sellers wisecracked to the other astronauts. “Don’t tell the other spatulas.” About four months later, the spatch’s orbit deteriorated enough that it burned up tumbling into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The same fiery fate awaits the wayward toolbox, along with the tons of other “space junk” floating around up there.