Scientists Solve Mystery of Unidentified Space Object Washed up on Beach

( – A strange cylindrical object that washed up on a beach in Australia has been identified. The 8-meter wide cylinder came ashore in Western Australia, around 150 miles from the city of Perth, in mid-July. Scientists initially guessed that the contraption was a fallen piece of a rocket launched from India. Experts said it was similar to India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PLSV). The European Space Agency made the same guess and now the Australian Space Agency has concluded that both guesses were correct.

“The Australian Space Agency has concluded the object located on a beach near Jurien Bay in Western Australia is most likely debris from an expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV),” the organization said in a formal statement.

While it is relatively rare for pieces of spacecraft to fall to Earth, experts estimate that around 130 million pieces of debris are floating around the world’s atmosphere. Most are burned up due to friction and high heat, but some can crash to Earth. Given the size of the planet’s bodies of water, and its uninhabited land masses, the chances of falling debris causing human fatalities or property destruction are very small.

Witnesses, however, saw the spectacle of “space junk” burning in the Earth’s atmosphere in Colorado in April. Local broadcaster KKTV 11 News said residents reported a stream of lights and the sound of explosions while a piece of the SpaceX Dragon crew capsule Endurance, which was used to return International Space Station astronauts to Earth, discarded the “junk” en route.

Last November, a significantly larger piece of debris caused concerns before crashing harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean. The 23-ton Long March 5B rocket launched from China in October causing enough trepidation that some countries even closed off parts of their airspace. Luckily, it fell into the ocean without incident, but it caused legislators to note that there are no international laws governing the ascent and descent of “space junk.”

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