A three inch gouge on the belly of Endeavour was found in photos taken today. Further investigation by NASA on Sunday by the robotic arm will determine if they fix it while docked at the station.
The gouge - about 3 inches square - was spotted in zoom-in photography taken by the space station crew shortly before Endeavour delivered teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan and her six crewmates to the orbiting outpost.
"What does this mean? I don't know at this point," said John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team. If the gouge is deep enough, the shuttle astronauts may have to patch it during a spacewalk, he said.
On Sunday, the astronauts will inspect the area, using Endeavour's 100-foot robot arm and extension beam. Lasers on the end of the beam will gauge the exact size and depth of the gouge, Shannon said, and then engineering analyses will determine whether the damage is severe enough to warrant repairs.