The toolbag lost by spacewalkers this past week is being tracked by satellite observers and one veteran observer actually captured the toolbag whizzing by on video! Kevin Fetter from Brockville, Ontario video-recorded the backpack-sized toolbag last night, Nov. 22 from his backyard. “It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter as it passed by the 4th magnitude star eta Pisces,” Fetter said. Check out the video here. What these “amateurs” can’t do these days! If you’d like to try to see the toolbag yourself, here’s the link to Space Weather’s Satellite Tracker, so you can find out when it will be traveling over your backyard. This site provides satellite observations times for residents of the US and Canada. The expensive toolbag floated away from Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper during the STS-126 mission’s first spacewalk on Nov. 18th. Whoever said the toolbag was lost never to be seen again!
And just why does that toolbag cost $100,000?
“The cost included the EVA crew lock bag itself, four retractable tethers, two adjustable equipment tethers, a grease gun with a straight nozzle, two wire ties, a grease gun with a J-hook nozzle, an EVA wipe caddy, six EVA wipes (two wet, four dry), a scraper debris container, a SARJ scraper and a large trash bag,” NASA spokesman Mike Curie.
Most of that equipment and the bag are not just something you can pick up at your local hardware store. They are specialized hardware that had to be specifically created and certified for the harsh environment of space, able to work properly in a vacuum and withstand temperature swings from plus 200 degrees F (93 C) and minus 200 degrees F (-128 C).
And if you want to complain about astronauts losing things in space, then you go put on a pair of bulky, stiff gloves and a spacesuit (and a diaper) and try to do some very intricate, demanding work in zero gravity for about seven hours!
sources: SpaceWeather.com, Orlando Sentinel
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.