I’m getting a few emails asking about the toolkit that an astronaut dropped from the International Space Station last week, and whether it is visible from the Earth. Well the answer, apparently, is yes it is. According to the Spaceweather.com website the bag has been spotted by amateur astronomers and should be visible from the UK this week through a good pair of binoculars, if you know where to look.
A stunning view from the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-126). Credit: NASA
If you haven’t been following the story then here’s a quick refresher: last week whilst on a spacewalk to repair part of the, now 10 year old, space station an astronaut let go one of the station’s toolbags and it gently floated away and out of reach. It’s now moving away from the space station all on its own, appearing around five minutes before the ISS as it crosses the sky. You can watch a video of the errant toolbag here on the Daily Telegraph website.
If you want to find out when the ISS (and the toolbag) will be flying over your site then have a look at the Spaceweather alerts page here. This story has been getting a lot of attention in the national media and press; but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the ISS has just passed an important milestone this month (10 years in space) and that this extended shuttle mission has already accomplished a great deal during its 12 days in orbit, including the repair of a urine-recycling unit (and other crucial upgrades) which will mean that the ISS crew can be doubled in 2009.