A lot of the last few years has played out like the beginnings of a terrifying sci-fi movie. Unnerving robots started deciding whether people should get the jobs they want. Self-driving cars turned out to be more likely to run you over if you aren't quite white enough for their programming, and soap dispensers were also discovered to be racist.
Then there was the time a mysterious hole was discovered in the International Space Station (ISS), which appeared to have been drilled from the inside. In August 2018, NASA announced they had found a "slow leak" on the ISS, after noticing a drop in pressure.
Unlike a sci-fi movie and more like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, the hole was initially plugged through the high-tech solution of an astronaut jamming his finger in there whilst the other astronauts figured out what to do next. They then covered it with tape, which is only marginally more reassuring than a finger, before using “epoxy on a gauze wipe to plug the hole".
The tiny hole, which was in the Soyuz MS-09 Roscosmos spacecraft docked to the ISS, was investigated from both inside and out, with the working theory being that it was caused by a micrometeoroid. However, it was later concluded, according to Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev, that the hole was drilled from the inside, whether by mistake or on purpose.
The module was returned to Earth in December 2018. The head of Rosmocos has now said that they know exactly what the cause of the hole was – but they are not releasing that information to anybody.
"It was in the household compartment [of the Soyuz MS-09 ship], it had already burned down long ago when the ship was approaching. We took all the samples. What happened is clear to us, but we won’t tell you anything," Dmitry Rogozin said at the conference, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
"We do need to retain some sort of secrecy."
NASA say they have not been told the conclusions of the Rosmocos investigation into the hole and will be talking to the space agency about the issue in the coming days, though they say they don't want the issue to upset the healthy working relationship the two agencies have developed over 40 years of cooperation in space.
"They have not told me anything," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the Houston Chronicle. "I don't want to let one item set [the relationship] back, but it is clearly not acceptable that there are holes in the International Space Station."