Mystery Object That Washed Up on Aussie Beach Identified

Australian Space Agency says it's space junk from Indian rocket; India's space group needs to confirm
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2023 6:18 AM CDT
Updated Aug 5, 2023 4:15 PM CDT
Mystery Object That Washed Up on Aussie Beach Identified
In this image made from video, a cylindrical object is seen on a beach in Green Head, Australia, on July 17.   (CHANNEL 9 via AP)

The mystery of a giant metal object that washed up on an Australian beach may finally be solved. reports that when the "bulky, barnacle-encrusted cylinder" turned up in mid-July on the shores of Green Head, located north of Perth in Western Australia, whispers circulated that it could be something military-related, or even a part of the long-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. After an investigation, however, the Australian Space Agency has come to a different conclusion.

The mysterious 6-foot-high object, which Al Jazeera notes is "about the size of a small car," "is most likely debris from an expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)," the agency tweeted Monday. In other words, the ASA thinks it's a piece of rocket—in this case, one operated by the Indian Space Research Organization. The agency says it's working with its Indian counterpart to confirm its findings and then "to determine next steps." ISRO, for its part, concedes that the object seems to be rocket debris, but it's still not sure of ownership. "We can't confirm it's ours unless we analyze it," that group's chair, S. Somanath, told the BBC earlier this month.

The BBC notes that some had initially speculated the cylinder was part of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft that India launched to the moon on July 14, but the barnacles clinging to the object's exterior suggest it had been in the water for some time—experts think maybe as long as a few months. Aussie authorities initially said they were treating the object as if it were "hazardous," as experts feared it could contain toxic materials. However, officials say a chemical analysis proved that not to be the case, per the AP. For now, the object remains in storage. (More India stories.)

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