Specialists from the Canadian Space Agency and NASA discovered a hole during a routine inspection of the Canadarm2 manipulator. The hand performs station maintenance, moves cargo and even astronauts. She is also responsible for “space fishing” – captures ships and delivers them to the station.
The check showed that the hole originated from small space debris that cannot be tracked. It could be particles of stones or dust, paint fragments from satellites, or something else. The researchers note that they could not avoid the collision – they cannot track objects the size of a soccer ball or smaller.
“Despite the blow, the analysis results show that the manipulator’s performance has not been affected. Damage is limited to a small area of the arm of the manipulator and a thermal blanket, ”- noted in the message NASA.
The robotic arm continued to perform its planned operations. The researchers added that it does not need repairs yet.
NASA noted that the problem of space debris has existed for a long time and will become more and more urgent as humanity sends more spacecraft into orbit. According to the US Space Surveillance Network, there are now about 200,000 small objects in space that can threaten satellites and other devices.
A study presented last month at the European Space Debris Conference says space debris is underestimated and will grow 50-fold by 2100.