NASA announced that it is investigating a technical glitch that occurred with a cooling system on the International Space Station on Wednesday, adding that there is no immediate danger to the Expedition 38 crew members on board the ISS.
According to NASA, the pump module on one of the space station’s two external cooling loops automatically stopped working when it reached a pre-set temperature limit. The cooling loops are used to circulate ammonia outside the space station to keep both internal and external equipment cool. The flight control teams, which worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, said that they suspect a flow control valve inside the pump module might have caused the anomaly.
"It could be a serious problem, but it's not an emergency," Kelly Humphries, an agency spokesperson, said in a statement.
Although there was no danger to the six crew members, the ground teams moved certain electrical systems over to the second loop. Some other systems and equipments had also been powered down inside three modules -- the Harmony node, the Kibo laboratory and the Columbus laboratory -- while experts were trying to figure out what caused the malfunction and how to fix it.
Officials said that an emergency spacewalk could be the way to fix the failed pump. However, they also think that it is too early to tell whether it is the best option.
“The crew is safe and preparing to begin a normal sleep shift while experts on the ground collect more data and consider what troubleshooting activities may be necessary,” a NASA statement said.
Expedition 38, the current ISS mission, is scheduled to stay on the space station until March 2014. The six-person crew includes NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio of the U.S.; Mikhail Tyurin, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Oleg Kotov of Russia; and Koichi Wakata of Japan.