August 3, 2023
The origins of the huge barnacle-covered canister discovered on the coastline of Green Head Beach in western Australia—about 150 miles from Perth—left many stumped when it appeared earlier this month, although initial guessed that it might be “space junk,” reports Sky News.
But now, the Australian Space Agency has come to a more concrete conclusion—announcing that the object “most likely” is debris from an “expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.”
The medium-lift launch vehicle is operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation. The third stage of the vehicle is jettisoned at an altitude of 264 miles.
Previously the object had been under guard by police, although it was quickly determined to be safe and not a risk to the community.
Officials from both India and Australia are working together to “provide further confirmation to determine next steps, including considering obligations under the United Nations space treaties,” the Australian Space Agency says.
Local resident Garth Griffiths said a neighbor alerted him to the strange find two weeks ago.
“A local lady and her partner discovered it just floating on the edge of the water and dragged it out with their four-wheel drive,” he told ABC News. “There were barnacles and marine life growing on it.”
Australia is no stranger to orbital remains mysteriously appearing in random places, with space debris from Elon Musk’s SpaceX craft crashing into a New South Wales farm last year.
Research contact: @SkyNews