The International Space Station has been leaking extraordinary amounts of air since September 2019.
Following the leak, crew members were initially prevented from resolving the issue Not important. In August, the leakage rate increased, prompting astronauts and astronauts in the orbital laboratory to earnestly try to find its source.
Roscosmos, Russian Space Agency, Announced On Thursday, crew members determined the exact location of the leak after conducting an extraordinary experiment: they let the tea leaves guide their search.
Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanish released a few leaves from a tea bag in the transfer chamber of the Swedish service module, which includes a kitchen, sleeping quarters and bathroom of the Russian segment of the station. The crew then closed the hatches of the compartment and observed the tea leaves in the video cameras floating in the micro gravity.
The leaves slowly floated into a scratch on the wall near the module’s communication device, indicating that it was a crack escaping from the air.
A year-long air leak at the space station
International Space Station Always leaks a little air. Typically, high pressure vessels mixed with oxygen and nitrogen carry out redistribution missions to replace the air that ISS loses. This mixture is designed to mimic the breathable air of the earth.
But in September 2019, the standard leak rate increased slightly. It was not considered a major accident, but by August 2020 the already high rate had increased fivefold, from 0.6 to 3.1 pounds per day, according to the Russian news agency Rhea Novosti.
So the crew members for the last two months Hunted for leaks Separating the sections of the station and observing their pressure changes.
While testing other parts of the ship, crew members hid in the Sweden module; When no evidence of leakage was found in those sections, they determined that it was a leak Possibly in Sweden itself.
Eventually, the astronauts and astronauts reduced the source to Svesda’s transfer chamber. But they still could not find the exact location of the leak.
Then came the tea-leaf trick.
“We believe we have really identified the area where the leak is most likely to occur,” Ivanishin said Russian news agency Tass.
The crew tape above the crack is stable and can withstand a wide range of temperatures throughout. But members do not think the tape will last long; They hope to replace it with a more reliable patch soon.
“Maybe we should try harder patches for our partners? We can talk to them. This is because the current patch is not so efficient,” said one crew member. According to Toss.
Roscosmos did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but said in a tweet that it was “working out a plan to close the leak permanently”.
NASA spokesman Daniel Hoot told Business Insider that the current leak rate does not pose an immediate risk to the crew.
The Russian part of the space station is not the first problem
Leakage is one of the many problems the space station has had recently, beginning to show its age beyond its age. Lifespan of 15 years In five years.
The Russian section of the station contains the station’s oldest modules. For the past few months, I have seen this Go to a toilet Temperature Increase with Nigu ly. And then on Wednesday, of the segment The oxygen supply system broke down. Roscosmos said crew members had fixed the system by Saturday.
Overall, the failures are an indication that the Russian side of the ISS probably needs reform.
“All modules of the Russian segment are finished,” astronaut Jenny Padalka Ria told Novosti.
This latest leak is not the first on the Russian side. Crew members in August 2018 A 2 mm Z hole was found Docked to the station as part of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
This hole seemed to have originated from a construction defect; Someone on earth plugged it in with paint, thinking no one would notice. The paint, it appeared, then exploded. The cosmonauts finally sealed the hole with epoxy sealant.
Katya Ayonova helped translate the story.
This article was originally published Business Insider.
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