Apparently, “almost half” of the fluorescent light bulbs used in the Japanese module of the International Space Station have begun burning out far earlier than expected.
An entire section of the station thus might soon be left in darkness.
[Image: Kibo, the Japanese module of the International Space Station, soon to be without internal light].
Although an impending delivery of new bulbs will undoubtedly bring light back to the failing module, the implication that astronauts aboard something like the International Space Station – or some special, trans-galaxial touring edition, launched twenty-five years from now – might be faced with total darkness, a darkness from which they cannot be rescued, is mind-boggling.
At the very least it would make a great film: ten minutes into what you think is a science fiction adventure story, all the lights on the ship go out. There is no way to replace the bulbs.
The next hour and a half you listen – after all, you can’t watch – as a group of orbiting athletes and scientists slowly comes to grips with their situation. They are drifting out past the rings of Saturn inside a strange constellation of unlit rooms – and they will never have light in the station again.
Five years from now one of them will still be alive, half-insane, speaking into a dead transmitter. The price of seeing stars is darkness, he whispers to himself over and over again, as his failing eyes gaze out upon nebulas and planets he’ll never reach.
(Via Wired Science).