Victor Tangermann
Third Eye

They Found the Space Station Leak… Using Tea Leaves

byVictor Tangermann
10. 20. 20
Victor Tangermann

That's one way to do it.

Astronaut Trelawney

In what sounds like a strange act of divination, the current crew of the International Space Station just used a tea bag to identity a pesky leak that’s been allowing air to escape from the station.

Here’s how we got here. In August, NASA announced it was investigating a small leak on the station that was allowing air to escape, saying that the crew was not currently in danger.

A bit of air leaking out the space station is to be expected, NASA said at the time, and requires occasional top ups from tanks delivered on cargo resupply missions to the station.

In September, the crew narrowed in their search to the Russian module using a variety of scientific instruments.

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The Tea

Then finally, last week, Russian state news announced that it had found the elusive leak — using tea leaves.

They released a tea bag into the microgravity of the station, then watched with a camera as it drifted toward the tiny leak.

“We believe that we have really identified the probable leakage area,” Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin told Russia’s flight control. “We have distributed a tea bag [in the Zvezda module] before closing the transfer chamber.”

“We have several photos and videos of the direction of the tea bag’s flight or where it intended to fly and this precisely shows the direction the air is blowing from the possible air leak,” he added.

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Roscosmos said Monday that it has now patched the leak with tape.

READ MORE: ISS Crew Just Found an Elusive Air Leak Using Floating Tea Leaves [Science Alert]

More on the leak: NASA Says the International Space Station Is Leaking Faster


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