Space debris was found scattered in several fields in Australia last month.
The debris likely came from a SpaceX Crew-1 flight, said an astrophysicist studying the debris.
Scientists had tracked the trajectory of the debris from Earth.
Australian farmers mysteriously found space debris strewn across their fields last month. An astrophysicist who examined the debris 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 10-foot-tall triangular structure – was found firmly planted in the ground, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The objects were scarred by burn marks consistent with atmospheric reentry, ABC reported.
Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist who studied the debris, said in a video that it was likely fragments of the fuselage of a SpaceX Dragon plane used during the 2020 Crew 1 mission. Some of the fragments had serial numbers, Tucker said.
Scientists had known debris from the Dragon spacecraft could fall into the area in early July, and the debris is a “good match” with the fuselage’s trajectory on July 8. tweeted astronomer Jonathan McDowell.
“After going out there and looking at the parts myself, I have no doubt that they are space junk,” Tucker told Space.com.
“I’m a farmer… what should I tell NASA?”
Sheep farmer Mick Miners spotted 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 week before, and people in the area also reported hearing a loud bang on July 9, ABC reported.
Wallace first reported the finding to the local Civil Aviation Safety Agency, who told him to call NASA.
“I’m a farmer from Dalgety, what should I tell NASA?” Wallace told ABC.
He also said of the debris, “If it landed on your house, there would be one 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.
“At some point SpaceX, or at least the US, has to make a statement as to whether or not they want to keep it or return it,” Tucker said, according to ABC.
Scientists warn of space debris
The risk of space junk falling on a human is tiny, and scientists can track the larger pieces of space junk from Earth to predict where they will fall.
However, scientists have sounded the alarm against 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.
Its landing area was mostly water and desert, making the chances of it falling on inhabited areas very low. Most of the debris burned up on re-entry, the China Manned Space Agency said, CNN reported.
Still, NASA has criticized the approach, stating that the debris “poses a significant risk of loss of life and property,” per CNN.
It was the second time China had uncontrollably dropped debris from its giant rocket back to earth.
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