Astronaut Tried to Photograph Mt. Fuji, Snapped Picture of Space Junk Instead

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Laugh It Off

Spending time in space can provide both good and bad experiences for the astronauts who live aboard the International Space Station — and it apparently provides some laughs, too.

As reports, the international crew that hitched a ride back to Earth on a SpaceX Crew Dragon said during their first post-flight press conference that Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furakawa was embarrassed by a photography gaffe at one point during their stay.

"We were in Node 1, I think, having lunch or dinner, and Satoshi had been out in the Cupola taking pictures," the mission's commander, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, recounted. "He comes in and he's like, 'Well, you know, I'm very, very, very sorry. But you know, I took this picture.' And we were all thinking, 'What's going on?'"

"He had managed to take a picture of the tool bag as it was transiting Mount Fuji," Mogensen continued. "He had been trying to take a picture of Mount Fuji and ended up with a picture of the tool bag."

This isn't the first time we've heard of the errant toolbag that Furakawa photographed, either.

The toolbag was apparently dropped during a spacewalk conducted by NASA's Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O'Hara, and as EarthSky reported at the time, the now-space junk fell into Earth's orbit and became bright enough to see from the ground.

Keeping Track

Even more hilariously, the toolbag was given an orbital number, 58229 / 1998-067WC, and is still being tracked as it floats above us.

As Mogensen said in the more recent news conference, the accident of photographing the toolbag was a mistake that anyone aboard the ISS could have made.

"I found one of the big challenges was trying to take a photo of a spot [on Earth] that you want to photograph, and you try to time it out, you try to plan your day, and then you make your way to the Cupola or one of the other windows and you get set, you get ready and then it's just a little bit cloudy," said the commander, who was the first ESA astronaut ever to hold that position on the ISS. "Even if it's not cloudy, maybe it's a little bit misty or the air isn't quite as clear, and then you don't get a good photo."

"So it's actually quite challenging if you're trying to capture a specific target," he continued.

While getting an off-Earth photo of Mount Fuji would no doubt have been cool for the Japanese astronaut, capturing a pic of the orbital toolbag is, to our minds, a lot more iconic.

More on the ISS: Woman Wins Contest, Blasts Off and Docks at Space Station