On Monday, July 17, the Australian Space Agency tweeted an image that looks like the debris of a foreign Space launch vehicle near Jurien Bay, a coastal town in Western Australia. This mysterious rocket debris caught the attention of scientists within the Australian Space Agency. They are collaborating with other researchers across the globe to unveil more useful information about the strange object. The agency is collaborating with “global counterparts who may be able to provide more information” The Australian Space Agency tweeted.
What Scientists Are Suggesting About the Strange Rocket Debris
Finding such a mysterious object in any location on Earth often creates several controversies and arguments across the scientific community. Scientists are yet to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion about the recently discovered rocket debris. Hence, there have been numerous suggestions made by people on Twitter.
Numerous opinions on Twitter suggested that the object may have come from the third stage of the LVM3-M4 rocket that launched India’s Chandryaan-3 moon rover mission as the Friday’s (July 14) liftoff remained visible from Australia. However, the rocket debris which surfaced from the sea appears to house several sea life. These include algae, goose barnacles, and many others.
The overall look of the objects looks like they just stayed more than three days in the sea. This is because the magazine Boater’s World, it typically takes weeks for barnacles to attach to a hull. Sources suggest that the rocket debris may come from the third stage of another Indian rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). An expert in Space tracking was skeptical about this idea.
“It doesn’t look anything like that stage to me,” Harvard-Smithsonian space debris expert Jonathan McDowell wrote on Twitter.
After a liftoff, launch operators tend to steer their vehicles down to unpopulated areas while descending and this makes the Earth’s oceans the primary landing sites for a good number of rocket stages as the oceans are the only less populated areas on Earth. It is not odd if the object is an Indian rocket stage, because the Indian Ocean is under the flight path missions that launch from India’s Satish Dhawan.
Past Rocket Debris That Have Fallen To Earth
In 1979, Some pieces of NASA’s Skylab space station accidentally crashed into rural Australia. Recently, the U.S. condemned China and some nations for allowing the key stage of their Long March 5B rocket to surface on Earth without controlling the process of building their Tiangong space station.
Responsibility has been established by the U.S Liability Convention (1972) if space debris causes harm when coming back to Earth. In 1978, when a Soviet Union nuclear Satellite also known as Kosmos 95 crashed into Canada’s Arctic, the responsibility established by the U.S Liability Convention was useful since the history of space.
Canada and the Soviet Union finally settled amicably on cleanup costs (independently of the convention) for $3 million CDN, which is roughly the equivalent of $13 million CDN or USD 10 million in 2023 dollars.
While we await to learn about the actual source of the rocket debris recently found on the Australian Beach, it is important to learn how space agencies are working to clear junks in our low Earth orbit. Once the Australian Space Agency concludes its investigation into the mysterious rocket debris, the entire world will learn more about the washed-up object and learn how to prevent space junk from mistakenly falling into populated regions.