TECH

International Space Station Hit By Space Debris Causing Tiny Crack In Window

'Yes – this is the chip in one of our Cupola windows, glad it is quadruple glazed!'

13/05/2016 10:29 | Updated 13 May 2016

The International Space Station is sadly not invincible, and here's the evidence to prove it.

Our very own Tim Peake confirmed this uncomfortable truth which a picture showing a 7mm crack in the station's Cupola window caused almost certainly by a tiny speck of space debris.

ESA

“I am often asked if the International Space Station is hit by space debris. Yes – this is the chip in one of our Cupola windows, glad it is quadruple glazed!” says Tim.

The giant space station might be heavily armoured but sadly not even some quadruple glazing can protect it from the thousands of tiny paint flecks which are currently whizzing around in orbit.

With over 20,000 confirmed 'large' tracked objects flying around, NASA is far more concerned about the potentially millions of tiny flecks which although small can still cause disproportionate amounts of damage to satellites, spacecraft and the ISS as well.

NASA/Science Source via Getty Images

The ISS contains extensive shielding around all the vital crew and technical areas so while it looks scary, this 7mm chip poses no threat to the window or the crew.

Go even slightly bigger in scale however and the damage can become far more serious.

Just a tiny piece of debris 1cm in size could rip through the space station's shielding and cause serious damage to the crew modules.

While astronauts are regularly trained for these instances the ISS has on occasion had to physically move itself out of the way.

With plans in place to try and round up the current wave of debris, the ESA and other global space agencies are now working hard to keep space as clean as possible for the future.

Holger Krag, Head of ESA’s Space Debris Office said: “ESA is at the forefront of developing and implementing debris-mitigation guidelines, because the best way to avoid problems from orbital debris is not to cause them in the first place,”

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