Space Junk, Mate!



Via the Daily Mail, stories of space junk landing in the Outback:

 Outback farmer James Stirton’s property consisted of little more than a herd of cattle and a sea of dust – until a curious object from outer space dropped in.

Mr Stirton scratched his head in wonder as he stared at the mangled ball of metal.

No one in their senses would drive hundreds of miles across the desert just to dump it in the middle of nowhere. So it must have come from above.

But what was it and how had it got there?

It came from outer space: James Stirton surveys the lump of twisted metal, which he found on his cattle farm in Queensland, Australia

Mr Stirton asked aeronautical experts in Australia and the U.S. But no one could give him a clear-cut answer.

So he loaded the object onto his truck and drove it to Charleville, 100 miles from his 120,000-acre property in Queensland. In Charleville it was examined by Mark Rigby, a curator from the Brisbane Planetarium.

He declared he had no doubt what it was – a helium or nitrogen tank from a rocket used to blast a U.S. solar satellite into space. Mr Stirton came across the object last November.

Mr Rigby was able to establish that it had most likely been launched from Cape Canaveral on October 26, 2006, on one of two satellites that were to study the sun.

The tank had been predicted for re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at 11.47am, Australian time, on November 1, which would have put it near Indonesia.

Space junk: The whorl of shredded metal is believed to have once been part of a rocket

"I don’t know why but I think it has just sort of limped on a bit and ended up in Charleville," said Mr Rigby. Mr Stirton was on his way to feed his cattle when he came across the lump, which is 21in wide and weighs 44lb.

"It gave me a great shock when I first saw it. I had no idea what it was. I know all about sheep and cattle but I don’t know much about satellites or space stuff."

He added: "We don’t get many visitors here but anyone who has seen it has either wanted to touch it or has stood back, afraid that someone or something was going to jump out of it."

He has been told he could probably sell his space souvenir but hasn’t received any offers – yet.



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