This post originally appeared in the CNES website: Un OVNI a poussé à inspecter les antennes utilisées à l’amarrage et au désamarrage de l’ATV. Thanks, Christoph, for the quick translation! – Ed.

An unidentified object forces cosmonauts to inspect the antennas used for ATV docking

Last week (week of 16 Aug – Ed.), astronaut Chris Cassidy identified a strange object floating around the ISS. He filmed the unknown object, raising the possibility of an ‘extraterrestrial’ identification. However, Russian flight controllers tentatively identified the component as an antenna protector that is part of the ISS’s Russian Zvezda service module. This type of antenna is usually used for docking and undocking manoeuvres of ATV.

The reconnaissance operation was followed up from the ATV Control Centre in Toulouse. There, managers asked Russian flight control for information on what type of antenna component had been spotted, and finally it turned out that the antenna was not part of the system used on ATV.

Detail of antenna locations on Russian module. Credit: NASA

Detail of antenna locations on Russian module. Credit: NASA

“We use the WAL3 antenna [for ATV] and in this case we are dealing with a WAL6-antenna,” explained Patrice Benarroche, executive operation manager for ATV at CNES.

Nonetheless, the MCC-M (Moscow ISS mission control) gave the order to inspect all the other antennas and to readjust the antenna cap screws during the last EVA, involving two team members, on Thursday, 22 August.

This NASA video shows the appreciable work of the two Russian cosmonauts, next to ATV-4, which is attached to the Zvezda module (see the 1:38 minute point in the video).