- Space debris was found strewn across several fields in Australia last month.
- The debris likely came from a SpaceX Crew-1 flight, said an astrophysicist who examined the junk.
- Scientists had tracked the flight path of the debris from Earth.
Farmers in Australia mysteriously found space junk strewn across their fields last month. An astrophysicist who examined the junk now believes it came from a SpaceX flight.
People near Dalgety, New South Wales, found three large pieces of debris, the largest of which – a 10ft-tall triangular structure – was found planted firmly in the ground, Australian Broadcasting reported Corporation.
The objects were scarred with burn marks consistent with atmospheric re-entry, ABC reported.
Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist who inspected the debris, said in a video that they were likely fragments from the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon aircraft used on the Crew-1 mission in 2020. Some of the fragments had numbers standard, Tucker said.
Scientists knew debris from the Dragon spacecraft debris could fall in the area around early July and the debris is a “good match” for the trunk’s flight path on July 8, astronomer Jonathan McDowell tweeted.
“After going there and looking at the pieces myself, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s space junk,” Tucker told Space.com.
“I’m a farmer…what am I going to tell NASA? »
Sheep farmer Mick Miners discovered the 10-foot-tall object in his field on July 25, he told ABC. His neighbor, Jock Wallace, had also found debris in his field the previous week, and area residents also reported hearing a loud bang on July 9, ABC reported.
Wallace first reported the discovery to the local Civil Aviation Safety Authority, who told him to call NASA.
“I’m a Dalgety farmer, what am I going to tell NASA? Wallace told ABC.
He also said of the debris: “If it landed on your house it would be a hell of a mess.”
The Australian Space Agency and New South Wales Police are investigating the objects to confirm their link to spaceflight, ABC reported Monday.
“Eventually SpaceX, or at least the United States, will have to make a statement about whether they want to keep it or have it returned, or not,” Tucker said, according to ABC.
Scientists warn of space debris
The risk of space junk falling on a human is miniscule, and scientists can track Earth’s largest pieces of space junk to predict where they will fall.
However, scientists have sounded the alarm over space debris, saying the problem will only get worse as space travel intensifies.
The news comes as debris released by a Chinese Long March 5B rocket returned to Earth unchecked on Saturday.
His landing zone was mostly water and deserts, which made the chances of him coming across populated areas very slim. Most of the debris burned up during reentry, the Chinese Manned Space Agency said, CNN reported.
Still, NASA criticized the approach, saying the debris “presents a significant risk of loss of life and property,” according to CNN.
It was the second time that China had let debris from its huge rocket fall to earth unchecked.