Spacesuit Leak Explained: How Did an Astronaut’s Helmet Fill with Water ‘Like a Fishbowl’? [VIDEO]
It sounds like a nightmare scenario: astronauts were completing chores outside the International Space Station when one of the spacewalkers reported his helmet was filling with water.
"There is some in my eyes, and some in my nose," European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano said to NASA officials on Earth. "It's a lot of water."
An estimated half-liter of water or more built up in Parmitano's helmet of before he returned to the space station, cutting the spacewalk drastically short.
Now a video featuring astronaut Chris Cassidy has been released that explains how the dangerous incident occured.
Though initial speculation targeted the astronaut's drinking bag, it turns out the spacesuit's cooling system is the real culprit, according to Science World Report.
During the walk cooling water leaked into the ventilation system, making its way into the helmet and covering Parmitano's nose, mouth and ears.
"In the back of the helmet's neck hole, slightly to the left side of the body, there's a slit in the rim that allows air to go through. This port links to the ventilation system, which blows air over the astronaut's face," Cassidy explains in the video. "Somehow, water leaked out and made its way through that slit and into the helmet, where it began to collect in a kind of hard white plastic lining behind Parmitano's head, soaking his hair. Soon, the water began to spill over the white plastic and float inside the helmet, raising the risk of drowning in the suit."
The spacewalk ended after just one hour and 32 minutes; it was scheduled to last six hours and 15 minutes, Space.com reports.
The two astronauts participating in the spacewalk were working to prepare the station for the arrival of a new Russian multipurpose laboratory module slated to arrive later this year, among other routine maintenance tasks.
It would be the shortest spacewalk in history if not for another 2004 incident in which astronaut Mike Finicke has a pressurization problem in his oxygen tank. That brief walk lasted just 14 minutes.
Watch Cassidy explain the mishap in a video below:
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