Astronauts on Thursday noticed frozen ammonia flakes leaking from the International Space Station, though NASA said the issue poses no immediate threat to the crew. A lot can—and apparently will—go wrong when you’re thousands of miles from Earth, especially with such complicated systems involved. The coolant, which is used to cool down the ISS’s power systems on its right solar array panels, first began leaking back in 2007. But the issue was finally fixed—or so they thought—back in 2012.
“It is in the same area, but we don’t know whether it’s the same leak,” NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries of the Johnson Space Center in Houston said. Right now the issue hasn’t had a negative affect, but if left unfixed, the station could lose its ability to cool whichever solar array is leaking. Mission Control predicts the leaking loop to shut down within 24 hours should no action be taken. Potential fixes are currently being discussed.
One possible move could be to move the station’s robotic arm over to the station’s port truss. The first leak back in 2007 was traced back to Port 6 truss, NBCNews said. Interestingly, space station commander Chris Hadfield, a Canadian Space Agency astronaut, said the rate of the leak varies “depending on the orientation of the station to the sun.”
While the crew is in no imminent danger, three members—Chris Hadfield, Tom Marschburn and Roman Romanenko—are planned to depart the ISS on Monday, May 13. That leaves only three members onboard to address the problem. However, three new members are expected to launch to the ISS on May 28.
More information will be provided to the crew soon, hopefully pinpointing the leak’s exact origin.