Space Junk Damages International Space Station's Robotic Arm

The wayward object punctured a hole in Canadarm2's protective thermal covering, but the robotic arm remains functional

NASA/Canadian Space Agency

A piece of space junk smashed into the International Space Station and damaged the orbiting lab's robotic arm, according to NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, NBC News reports.

A puncture in the arm's protective thermal covering was noticed during a routine inspection on May 12, but the nearly 60-foot robotic appendage remains functional, officials from the Canadian Space Agency confirmed. It's not known what hit the space station's robotic arm, called Canadarm2, or when the incident occurred, but an investigation is underway.

The collision highlights the growing threat posed by orbital debris as the narrow band of space around Earth becomes increasingly crowded with satellites, spent rocket parts and other wayward objects. Experts have said the problem is magnified by society's dependence on satellite systems for telecommunications, GPS and other everyday conveniences.

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