A huge metal ball in the middle of a beach can attract attention. And if its origin is unknown, it can grace international headlines and spark all kinds of theories on social media
A mysterious titanium ball weighing 41 kilograms and covered in Russian text has been found on a beach in the Bahamas. Experts believe it could be a part of a spacecraft.
A British woman, Manon Clarke, spotted the 41kg reflective ball poking out of the sand while she was walking with her family at Harbour Island on Wednesday evening.
“We went walking to a different spot than usual and I noticed this silver shiny moon thing poking out the sand,” the 24-year-old told The local news portal.
Space experts believe that the ball could be a Hydrazine Propellant Tank for a satellite or spacecraft, though uncertainty remains about where it came from and how it came to be on the beach.
Mark Morabito, Chairman of Virgin Galactic and an astronaut in training, said he was “99 percent certain it is a hydrazine tank from a rocket of some kind”, which are used on unmanned rockets for satellite launches.
The Russian text on the object notes it has an operating temperature range of between -170C and -196C, a capacity of around 43 litres, a maximum weight of around 41kg and also suggests it may have been constructed in 2018.
It cannot be determined how or where the tank came from but Dr Sarah Hudspith, Associate Professor in Russian at the University of Leeds, said “the object may have originated from Cuba, given that Cuba was an ally of the Soviet Union, from which it obtained all kinds of equipment”.
Dr Archer said: “How it washed up in the Bahamas is rather mysterious.”
But he said one thing to bear in mind is that most satellites or satellite parts that come back down to Earth will fall in the ocean.
He added: “Under controlled circumstances, operators will usually aim for them to be deorbited and destroyed in the ‘spacecraft cemetery’ in the south pacific ocean uninhabited area, centred on ‘Point Nemo’ the furthest point from any land on Earth.
“But of course, not all satellites enter the atmosphere under such controlled circumstances.”
Dr Archer said while there is not much evidence of charring on the tank, it would not have been on the outside of the satellite, so there is a chance it could have come from a defunct satellite.