By Tim Binnall
A pair of Russian cosmonauts conducted a complex spacewalk outside of the ISS today to inspect a mysterious hole found in a Soyuz capsule attached to the station. Measuring a mere two millimeters, the tiny spot of damage was initially found back in August when an air leak was detected and traced back to the hole which was subsequently patched by astronauts using cloth and glue. Despite being incredibly small, the hole has become something of a huge puzzle in that no one is quite sure how it was created.
Scientists initially suspected that the hole had been naturally created by fast-moving space rock, however closer examination of the spot increased the intrigue considerably as it appears to have been deliberately drilled into the Soyuz capsule. This led to speculation that whoever made the hole had done so in order to sabotage the craft. No doubt the most controversial rumor, reported in the Russia media and then vehemently denied by officials in that country, was that American astronauts aboard the ISS may have created the hole as a means of facilitating a return to Earth for a sick colleague.
Now thanks to what was called an "unprecedented" mission by the Russian space agency, we may eventually find out who or what made the hole. Over the course of six hours on Tuesday, two cosmonauts sliced through a layer of insulation and shielding on the Soyuz capsule from the outside to get a better look at the spot and to take samples of the epoxy used to patch it. The new photographic perspective on the hole as well as the materials collected around the area will soon be brought back to Earth for further examination and, hopefully, some answers.