Sentinel-1A suffered a loss of power on impact, and slight changes in its orientation and orbit.
The European Space Agency soon discovered that the satellite’s solar panel wing had been walloped by something.
Now the satellite’s onboard cameras have revealed a hole in its solar panel wing, with an investigation underway to find the cause.
At the time, Sentinel-1A was at an altitude of 700km, a height known as low earth orbit that’s thick with space junk.
“Such hits, caused by particles of millimeter size, are not unexpected”
ESA Space Junk chief Holger Krag
Still the probe might have had some advance warning if the debris was big enough – but it seems it wasn’t.
The size of the hole apparently suggests the object was less than 5mm big, despite the damage.
ESA boffins are still trying to figure out if the mystery object was man made or organic.
Holger Krag, head of the ESA Space Debris Office, said: “Such hits, caused by particles of millimeter size, are not unexpected.
“These very small objects are not trackable from the ground, because only objects greater than about 5 cm can usually be tracked and, thus, avoided.”
The impact took place on August 23, but analysis took several days. Sentinel-1A should be up and running again shortly.