After helplessly watching an expensive NASA tool bag drift clear of her flailing grasp during a recent maintenance space walk outside the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the galactic gaff of American astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper is now being tracked by a Canadian amateur astronomer.
[AJ here. I have to assume that dear Heidemarie, although she's an astronaut (a decidedly un-girly-girl profession), is in fact a straight chick. A lesbian would never have let this happen. Lose tools?? Puh-lease.]
Specifically, budding star gazer Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Ontario, claims to have used nothing more than his amateur equipment and enthusiast knowledge to accurately calculate the positioning of Stefanyshyn-Piper's $100,000 USD orbiting tool bag before then capturing its movements on camera.
“I don't have any [professional] background in astronomy,” revealed Mr. Fetter while speaking to Australian publication The Age of Melbourne. “Just one night I looked up at the night sky and got hooked on astronomy. It was many years later that I started satellite observing.”
According to Mr. Fetter, he was able to locate the positioning of NASA's missing tool bag by using an orbital calculator found on astronomy Web site SpaceWeather.com, with which he was then able to determine when the bag would be passing overhead.
In terms of subsequently capturing the tool bag on video, Mr. Fetter said that success was largely dependent on the physical size of the object and exactly how much surface light it reflected while moving across the night sky.
However, the part-time astronomer claims to have struck it lucky with his efforts and posted the resulting footage to video-sharing Web site YouTube for all to see.
“It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter as it passed by the 4th magnitude star eta Pisces,” said Mr. Fetter in his YouTube description.
Those worried about being struck on the head by a flaming grease gun or solar panel wrench should take solace from space experts who say the NASA tool bag will burn up harmlessly in the atmosphere when it finally loses orbit.
Somewhat more of a concern until that happens is the potential risk it poses for the crew of the International Space Station, the docked space shuttle Endeavour, and orbiting satellites. (http://www.thetechherald.com/article.php/200848/2512/Amateur-astronomer-captures-lost-NASA-tool-bag-on-video)
Here's the video. I defy anyone to confirm or disprove that this is the tool bag. LOL.
Hi Mrs. Schmidt! Nice night for a trip to the International Space Station, wouldn't you say, Mrs. Schmidt?