Mysterious cylinder washed up on Australian beach has finally been identified
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Following a two-week investigation, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) announced this week that the object belongs to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
"We have concluded the object is most likely debris from an expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)," said ASA on Twitter.
"The PSLV is a medium-lift launch vehicle operated by [ISRO].
They continued: "The debris remains in storage and the Australian Space Agency is working with ISRO, who will provide further confirmation to determine next steps, including considering obligations under the United Nations space treaties.
"The Australian Space Agency is committed to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including debris mitigation, and continues to highlight this on the international stage."
Locals at Green Head, about 250 kilometres north of Perth, reported on July 16 that a mysterious copper cylinder had washed up on a beach near Jurien Bay.
A giant mysterious metal cylinder has left locals stumped after the debris appeared suddenly on the shoreline of WA's Midwest.— 10 News First Perth (@10NewsFirstPER) July 17, 2023
The huge metal object was found on a beach near Green Head on Sunday, with local residents reporting the suspicious item to police.
The item is… pic.twitter.com/XzUhAGznna
The cylinder was estimated to be 2.5 metres long and 2.5 metres wide and it was leaning on its side.
WA Police later confirmed that the object was not hazardous but asked people to stay away from it.
“This measure has been taken to ensure the preservation of potential evidence and facilitate further expert examination," they said in a statement at the time.
Police immediately dismissed the idea it had come from flight MH370, which disappeared on its journey from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014.
A spokesperson for the ASA later said it was making enquiries related to the object.
“The agency is working to confirm whether the object could be part of a foreign space launch vehicle that has washed up on shore, and liaising with global counterparts who may be able to provide information about the object," they said in a statement at the time.
Dr Alice Gorman, an expert in the field of space archaeology, told The Guardian she thought the object was a fuel cylinder that came from the third stage of India’s polar satellite launch vehicle rocket.
“It’s surprising because it’s such a large fragment,” she said. “And it makes you wonder what was going on at the time, if maybe a marine weather event dislodged it and brought it ashore.
“It is very interesting though, and is a way regular everyday people can get close to space, as often these things turn into souvenirs. People like to keep some space junk.”