Australian authorities believe that a strange cylinder that washed up on a beach is likely space junk, while local media continues to wildly speculate on the object’s origins.
The Australian Space Agency wrote on Twitter that it has made “inquiries related to this object located on a beach near Jurien Bay in Western Australia.”
“The object could be from a foreign space launch vehicle, and we are liaising with global counterparts who may be able to provide more information,” the agency speculated. “As the origin of the object is unknown, the community should avoid handling or attempting to move the object.”
The agency asks that anyone who sees other suspected space debris should report it to local authorities.
Even if the piece is not from the most recent launch, experts argued it is highly possible that the debris fell from some Indian rocket launch, as the country launches missions from the Satish Dhawan Space Center and flies its rockets out over the Indian Ocean, which could see the debris reach Western Australia.
July 14, 2023, Kolkata, India: Birla Industrial and Technological Museum live telecast of Chandrayaan-3 Mission for students in Kolkata. Indian Space Research Organisation, a major constituent of the Department of Space, Government of India, launched a Launch Vehicle Mark III M4 carrying the Chandrayaan-3 Mission at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Tirupati district of Andhra Pradesh, India. India’s moon-landing mission Chandrayaan-3 consists of an indigenous propulsion module, lander module and a rover. (Dipa Chakraborty/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Geoffrey Thomas, aviation expert and Editor-in-Chief at AirlineRatings.com told Core News that the debris most likely could be a fuel tank from a rocket launched in the last 12 months, then “dropped into the Indian Ocean, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, and washed up at Green Head.”
A view of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Range Complex in Woomera in South Australia on December 4, 2020, ahead of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa 2 probe’s expected sample drop to Earth after landing on and gathering material from an asteroid some 300 million kilometres from Earth. (Morgan Sette/AFP via Getty Images)
European Space Agency engineer Andrea Boyd told ABC News Australia experts are “pretty sure based on the shape and the size, it is an upper-stage engine from an Indian rocket that’s used for a lot of different missions.”
Boyd noted that India has used the same model since the 90s and used the equipment in “more than 50 missions,” but acknowledged the presence of barnacles indicated it was likely “not the one from this year” and could be 20 years old.