NASA personnel believe a toolbag lost by astronauts working aboard the International Space Station will be visible above the UK this week.
Astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara lost a bag packed with vital tools they needed to fix a solar array on the ISS earlier this month, which has since settled into orbit roughly 250 miles above Earth.
The bag is tracing a route roughly five minutes ahead of the station, which is currently drifting east off the coast of South America.
NASA estimates the bag will make an appearance off the south coast of the UK by Tuesday, November 21.
And, while it is small, they estimate Britons living in the south will be able to catch a glimpse of the bag as it reflects the sun’s rays towards Earth.
Astronomers on the ground have spotted the bag shining as it slightly precedes the ISS trajectory.
The satchel is gently reflecting light at the planet, but to the extent that even amateurs can spot it floating in space.
People can catch a glimpse of the bag using a pair of binoculars or a telescope on Tuesday, November 21 or Friday, November 24.
But, as with any interstellar display, they will be at the mercy of the UK’s traditional autumnal weather.
Southern Britons can see the bag between 6.24pm and 6.34pm on November 21, providing the skies are clear.
The next best time will be the coming Friday between 5.30pm and 5.41pm, according to astronomers from the Virtual Telescope Project.
The group of astronomers were the first few people to see the bag from the ground and described it as a “sharp dot of light”.
The tool bag was first seen from Japan on November 1 by photographer Satoshi Furukawa, who was photographing Mount Fuji at the time.
NASA later confirmed that astronauts had lost the bag when they ran out of time while assessing plans to remove and stow a communications relay named the Radio Frequency Group earlier this month.
The agency has given the bag the US Space Force designation 58229/1998–067WC and is tracking the item to ensure it doesn’t threaten the ISS or its satellites.
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This notice was published: 2023-11-20 15:14:00