Friday may be an ordinary day for commuters on the ground. But it wasn’t an easy day for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano had to pack up to complete several spacewalks because of the damage to the space station’s Alpha Electromagnetic Spectrometer (AMS).
(Photo from: NASA, via BGR)
AMS is known to be a rather sophisticated set of high-tech instruments designed to detect cosmic rays in the space environment. It is helping scientists on Earth solve some of the most confusing mysteries in the universe, such as how dark matter and antimatter affect the universe.
Unfortunately, the AMS’s cooling system has failed suddenly and is difficult to complete. Although we’ve heard of many spacewalks before, Friday’s mission was clearly much trickier.
In order to complete the repair of AMS, the astronauts had to carry out several spacewalks. During the first walk, they first sent out the parts that needed to be replaced.
Parmitano and Morgan will then remove the protective shield mounted above the AMS and attach the rails so that it can be operated more easily during service.
When the repair components are finally replaced, the two also need to keep important supplies at their fingertips.
Although it may sound like a piece of cake on paper, imagine you’re flying around the ground at nearly 5 miles per second on the International Space Station, and the risk of a long spacewalk is much higher (not to mention countless pieces of space junk).