A Toolbox Orbiting 400 km Above Earth's Surface Can Be Spotted with Binoculars

Henrik Rothen

Nov.28 - 2023 10:42 AM CET

Science
Photo: Shutterstock.com / NASA
Photo: Shutterstock.com / NASA
A Toolbox Orbiting 400 km Above Earth's Surface Can Be Spotted with Binoculars.

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Astronomy enthusiasts have a unique opportunity to observe a new object in space, thanks to an incident involving NASA astronauts.

During a spacewalk earlier this month to repair a solar panel on the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara accidentally let go of a tool bag. This bag is now orbiting Earth, approximately 400 kilometers above the surface.

The tool bag's white surface, which strongly reflects sunlight, makes it visible from Earth with the aid of binoculars or a telescope.

The bag was inadvertently captured in a photograph taken by Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa as the ISS passed over Japan. The tool bag is currently orbiting just ahead of the ISS and has a visual magnitude slightly less bright than the planet Uranus.

This incident adds to the estimated 100,000 pieces of space junk currently in our galaxy. Other items lost during spacewalks include a bolt, spring, washer, a 30cm spatula, and a thermal cover.

The tool bag is expected to orbit Earth for several months before eventually entering the atmosphere and disintegrating.