Space junk was found scattered 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 were monitoring the flight path of debris from Earth.
Australian farmers mysteriously found space debris scattered across their fields last month. An astrophysicist who examined the garbage now believes it came from a SpaceX flight.
People near Dalgety, New South Wales found three large pieces of debris, with the largest – a 10-foot-tall triangular structure – found firmly planted in the ground, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The objects were marked with burn marks, consistent with reentry into the atmosphere, ABC reported.
Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist who inspected the debris, said in a video that it was likely fragments from the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon plane used during the Crew-1 mission in 2020. Some of the fragments had serial numbers, Tucker said.
Scientists knew that the Dragon spacecraft debris could fall into 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 out there and looking at the fragments myself, there’s no question in my mind that it’s space junk,” Tucker told Space.com.
“I am a farmer … what will I 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 camp the week before, and people in the area also reported hearing a loud blast on July 9, ABC reported.
Wallace first reported the discovery to the local civil aviation safety authority, who told him to call NASA.
“I am a farmer from Dalgety, what will I tell NASA?” Wallace told ABC.
He also said of the debris: “If it fell on your house, it would make a big mess.”
The Australian Space Agency and New South Wales Police are investigating the objects to confirm their connection to space flights, ABC reported on Monday.
“Eventually SpaceX, or at least the United States, will have to make a statement 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 debris falling on a human is minimal, and scientists can trace the largest chunks of space debris from Earth to predict where they will fall.
However, scientists have sounded the alarm about space debris, saying the problem will only get worse as space travel intensifies.
The news comes when debris released by a Chinese Long March 5B rocket returned to Earth uncontrolled on Saturday.
Its landing area was mostly made up of water and deserts, which made the chances of it falling on population centers very slim. Most of the debris burned on reentry, the China Manned Space Agency said, CNN reported.
However, NASA has been critical of the approach, stating that the debris “carries a significant risk of loss of life and property,” according to CNN.
It was the second time that China had allowed debris from its huge rocket to land uncontrolled.
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