The pesky raccoon that has turned the ISS (below) upside down.
The problem: Orbiting the earth aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 9 scientists were chagrined to report a bevy of equipment and supply problems stemming from the behavior of an inquisitive raccoon Monday.
Example: Fincke said he traced the recent contamination of the ISS water supply back to the raccoon's habit of washing its food before eating it. The American officer added that the space station's external-refuse cylinders are regularly turned over and rummaged through—especially on nights when the crewmembers have consumed fish dinners or freeze-dried "astronaut ice cream."
Russian mission control monitors the actions of the furry little devil.
Another example: When Padalka opened his locker last week and found an orbiting thundercloud of rumpled wrappers in place of his private supply of Snickers bars, Fincke laughed so hard he spit out the pouch of water he'd been drinking. However, Fincke was not the one laughing when he spotted the playful creature running off wearing his spare Orlan-M spacesuit helmet. But both astronauts could enjoy seeing the bewildered raccoon scrambling to keep up with the zero-gravity treadmill, after having apparently triggered its "quick-start" switch.
Over the top: "I shooed him out of the Unity module, but then Padalka got me on the intercom, and the critter, seeing I was distracted, slipped in behind me and got his deft, furry little paws on the controls for the gyroscopes that stabilize the platform's flight. Before we knew it, the danger lights were strobing, the alarms were going off, and the whole station was upside-down."
Raccons are such a bother, especially space raccoons.
I once had six on the back porch eating cat food. They entered through the cat door. At the time, those pelts were worth about $500 each. I should have cashed in then.