On the 12th of May, in space, the International Space Station (ISS) astronauts while carrying out routine checks noticed a hole in the terminal covering of one of the robotic arm attached to the ISS.
The robotic arm known as the ‘Canadarm2’ was flown to the highest sales in 1997 and had been used in carrying out maintenance works on outside parts of the ISS that may not be reachable by astronauts. This robotic arm was made by Canada and seems to be their area of expertise regarding parts provided for use on the ISS for which they’ve built other robotic arms and has in 2019, made known plans to start work on a more advanced arm.
The damage to the Canadarm2 was caused by debris flying around in space which has been a major source of concern over the years. Safety of human activities in space are being threatened by millions of debris flying around. Satellites now being built have to be provided with means of identifying debris on its path so as to be able to avoid them to mitigate disasters in space. According to space.com the US space surveillance network currently tracks “at least 23000 softball-sized or larger pieces of space debris in orbit” to prevent them from ramming into the ISS. However, smaller pieces that are too small to monitor still get through, one of which must have been this that hit the ISS robotic arm.
Ongoing analysis indicates that the robotic arm is still operational as the damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket. However, the need to invent technology to rid our space orbit of debris still lingers.
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