The two man U.S. and Russian crew of the International Space Station heard a metallic crunching noise the day before Thanksgiving, but Russian space officials and NASA say the ISS was not hit by an object from space. "All systems are intact," says NASA's Rob Navias. "All of the data from the U.S. and Russian sides shows nothing out of the ordinary."
Mark Carreau writes in the Houston Chronicle that astronaut Mike Foale thought it sounded as if something had struck the part of the ISS the houses the crew's sleeping quarters, kitchen and bathroom. "It sounded like a metal tin can kind of being expanded and compressed," Foale says. "It was a noise that lasted about a second. It sounded like an impact or something."
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri says, "For a couple of seconds there was a strange noise, probably from outside. I don't think there was a jet firing. We heard the noise, both of us."
Foale used video cameras on the 57-foot-long robot arm to check the external areas of the ISS for potential damage. "We 're looking tangential at the area we think we heard the noise come from," Foale said. "We don't see any blemish at all."
The Department of Defense tracks the movements of thousands of pieces of debris from old satellites and rocket launches that are in orbit around the Earth. If they detect a possible hit, NASA can maneuver the space station out of the way.
Plenty of time to meditate on board the ISS?especially if you learn the quick way of Getting in the Gap, part of this season's wonderful Christmas store.
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