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International Space Station Damaged by Space Debris

The Canadarm2 robotic arm which is a part of the International Space station was damaged by Space Debris. This debris is too small to be tracked. The instrument is still operational, but the object punctured the thermal blanket and damaged the boom beneath. It’s a sobering reminder that the low-Earth orbit’s space junk problem is a ticking time bomb.

Space agencies around the world are aware of the Space Debris problem. Over 23,000 pieces are being tracked in low-Earth orbit to help satellites and the ISS avoid collisions but they are the size of a softball or larger. It is very small, travelling at orbital velocities can still do some significant damage, including punching right through metal plates.

Canadarm2 – formally known as the Space Station Remote Manipulator System designed by the Canadian Space Agency – has been a fixture on the space station for 20 years. It is a multi-jointed titanium robotic arm that can assist with manoeuvring objects outside the ISS, including cargo shuttles, and performing station maintenance.

The damage was first noticed on 12 May, during a routine inspection. NASA and the CSA worked together to take detailed images of and assess the damage. The Canadian space agency said that despite the impact, results of the ongoing analysis indicate that the arm’s performance remains unaffected. The damage is limited to a small section of the arms boom and thermal blanket. Canadarm2 is continuing to conduct its planned operations.ISS had to perform emergency maneuvers three times to avoid collisions with Space Debris at its altitude of around 250 miles. According to a report from the European Space Agency, an estimated 130 million fragments of anthropogenic material smaller than a millimeter are orbiting Earth right now.

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