ISS crew just got a provocative air leak using floating tea leaves

The International Space Station has been leaking unusual amounts of air since September 2019.

Initially, crew members prevented the issue from being resolved, as the leak was not a major one. But in August Gust, the leak rate rose, prompting astronauts and cosmonauts sitting in orbital labs to try to find its source.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos announced on Thursday that crew members had finally located the leak after an unusual test: they had tea leaves to guide their search.

A few leaves were taken out of a tea bag in the transfer chamber of the Cosmon ant anatoli evening, Zvezda service module, which housed the kitchen, sleeping quarters and bathroom in the Russian section of the station. The crew then sealed the chamber by closing its hatches, and the tea leaves they watched on the video camera as they floated in the microgravity.

Evidence was found that the leaves were slowly spreading towards a scratch in the wall near the module’s communication equipment evidence that it was a crack through which air was escaping.

The crew then supported the leak using Captain Tape, Rosecosmos Reported on Monday.

Astronaut Jeffrey Ashby entered the Zvezda service module on May 25, 2011.  (NASA)Astronaut Jeffrey Ashby entered the Zvezda service module on May 25, 2011. (NASA)

A year-long air leak on the space station

The International Space Station always leaks a little air. Typically, the re-aligned mission consists of a highly pressurized container filled with a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen to replace the lost air of the ISS. This mixture is designed to mimic the respiratory air of the earth.

But in September 2019, the standard leak rate increased slightly. It was not considered a major risk, but in August 2020, the elevated rate has already increased fivefold, from 0.6 to 3.1 pounds of air per day, according to Russian news agency Rhea Novosti.

So in the last two months crew members have been hunting for leaks by isolating parts of the station and keeping an eye on their pressure changes.

Initially, crew members hunted in the Zvezda module while they tested other parts of the ship; When they did not find evidence of leaks in those sections, they decided that leaks were likely in Zizada itself.

Eventually, astronauts and cosmons narrowed the source to Zvezda’s transfer chamber. But they still couldn’t find the exact location of the leak.

Then came the tea-leaf trick.

“We believe we have really identified the potential leakage area,” Ivanishin said, according to the Russian news agency Tass.

The tape placed on the crew can remain stable and sticky in a wide range of temperatures, including near-absolute zero of space. But members don’t think the tape lasts long; They hope to replace it with a more reliable patch soon.

According to Tass, a crew member said, “Maybe we should try harder patches on our partners? We can talk to them. This is because the current patch is not so efficient.”

Roscosmos did not respond in a timely manner to the release of Professional Insider’s questions, but the agency noted in a tweet that it was “working on a program of operations to permanently seal the leaked location.”

NASA spokesman Daniel Hewitt told Business Insider that the leak “has no immediate threat to crew at the current leak rate.”

The Russian side of the space station is not the first problem

The leak on this spacecraft station is one of the few recent issues that is starting to show its age after completing its 15-year lifespan in five years.

The Russian segment of the station has some of the oldest modules of the station. Over the past few months, he has seen a bust bust in the toilet and a mysterious rise in temperature. Then on Wednesday the segment’s oxygen oxygen supply system broke down. Crew members fixed the system by Saturday, according to Roscosmos.

But overall, the failure is an indication that the Russian side of the ISS may need an upgrade.

“All modules in the Russian territory have been sold out,” Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka told Rhea Novosti.

This latest leak was also not the first from the Russian side. In August 2018, crew members found a 2-millimeter drill hole in the part of a Russian Soyuz spaceship that docked at the station.

Holes and patches in the Soyuz spaceship in 2018.  (NASA / Chris Bergin / Twitter)Holes and patches in the Soyuz spaceship in 2018. (NASA / Chris Bergin / Twitter)

The defect of the product felt the hole stem; Someone on earth apparently plugged in with paint, hopefully no one will notice. The paint, it appeared, later broke. Cosmos ts finally ched the hole with epoxy sealant.

Katya Ionova contributed translation assistance for this story.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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