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The Toothbrush: It's In The Space Station's Toolbox. How About Yours?

The toothbrush/space tool.
The toothbrush/space tool.

When we heard that astronauts aboard the International Space Station took a spare toothbrush along on a spacewalk today and used it to help clean debris from around some bolts they needed to secure in order to install a power unit, it got us thinking.

Just how versatile are old toothbrushs? We know we've used them to:

-- Clean bike gears.

-- Get grime out of our hubcaps.

-- Get at the crust around a car battery's terminals.

-- Polish jewelry.

-- Reach into aquarium filters.

There must be, though, many other ways they've been used. Please put on your " Hints from Heloise" hats and share in the comments thread.

By the way, NPR's Joe Palca tells our Newscast Desk that the two astronauts' spacewalk was a success. He says that:

"The space station gets its power from an array of solar panels. Four boxes, called main bus switching units, deliver that power to the electrical system on board the station. One of those units had stopped working properly. The station has a spare, so NASA decided to replace the malfunctioning unit.

"But during a spacewalk last week, Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide were unable to drive home a bolt to needed install the unit, apparently because of some metal debris on the bolt or bolt housing. Using some jury-rigged tools, including a toothbrush on a metal handle, today they removed the debris. This this time the bolt went in without a hitch. Signals on the ground showed the new unit was working."

(H/T to NPR's Scott Neuman.)

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.