An ISS crew found an elusive air leak using floating tea leaves

An ISS crew found an elusive air leak using floating tea leaves

The International Space Station has been leaking an abnormal amount of air since September 2019.

At first, the crew delayed solving the problem. I wasn’t majoring. However, in August, the leak rate increased, and astronauts and astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory began to try to find the source in earnest.

Russian space agency Roscosmos Announcement On Thursday, after devising an unusual test, the crew finally pinpointed the location of the leak. They let the tea leaves guide the search.

Astronaut Anatoly Ivanishin unveiled a few leaves from a tea bag in the transfer room of the Zvezda service module, a section of the Russian division of stations with kitchens, sleeping rooms and bathrooms. The crew then closed the hatch to seal the chamber and monitored the tea leaves on a video camera as the tea leaves floated by microgravity.

Leaves that slowly float towards the blemishes on the wall near the module’s communication equipment are evidence of a crack through which air escapes.

After that, the crew Kapton tape, Roscosmos Report on monday.

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

A year of air leak from the space station

International space station There is always a slight air leak. Typically, the resupply mission carries a high-pressure vessel with a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen to replace the air lost by the ISS. The mix is ​​designed to mimic the earth’s breathable air.

However, the standard leak rate increased slightly in September 2019. It wasn’t considered a big risk, but the rate, which had already increased in August 2020, increased fivefold from 0.6 pounds per day to 3.1 pounds, according to the Russian news agency. Ria Novosti.

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So over the past two months, the flight attendants In search of a leak Isolate sections of the station and monitor pressure changes.

Initially, the crew crouched in the Zvezda module while testing different parts of the ship. When no evidence of leak can be found in that section, From Zvezda itself.

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

Then the tea leaves trick came.

Ivanishin said, “We believe we have actually identified areas for potential leaks.” Russian news agency TASS.

The tape that the crew has applied to the crack can remain stable and sticky over a wide range of temperatures, including when the almost absolute space is zero. However, the members don’t think the tape will last long. We hope to replace it with a more stable patch sooner or later.

One crew member said, “Should we try the hard patch our partners have? We can talk to them, because the current patch is not that efficient.” According to TASS.

Roscosmos did not respond to Business Insider’s questions in time for posting, but the agency noted in a tweet that “we are working on a working program to permanently seal leak locations.”

NASA spokesman Daniel Huot told Business Insider, “At current leak rates, leaks do not pose an immediate risk to crew.”

This is not the first problem on the Russian side of the space station.

Leakage is one of several recent problems with the space station. 15 year life expectancy 5 years.

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In the Russian section of the station are some of the oldest modules in the station. Over the past few months The bathroom bursts And temperature Mysteriously increase. Then on Wednesday the segment Oxygen supply system failure. According to Roscosmos, the crew modified the system until Saturday.

But overall, the failure is a sign that the Russian side of the ISS probably needs an upgrade.

“All modules in the Russian segment are exhausted.” Astronaut Gennady Padalka Dear Ria Novosti.

This latest leak was also not the first on the Russian side. In August 2018, the crew 2mm drill hole found Part of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft anchored at the station.

Holes and patches for the 2018 Soyuz spacecraft.  (NASA / Chris Bergin / Twitter)Holes and patches for the 2018 Soyuz spacecraft. (NASA / Chris Bergin / Twitter)

The hole seemed to result from a manufacturing defect. Someone on earth has clearly blocked it with paint, hoping that no one will notice it. Paint appeared and later fell off. The astronauts eventually patched the hole with epoxy sealant.

Katya Ionova provided translation support for this story.

This article was originally published by the publisher Business insider.

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