Great space ball mystery solved

The mysterious metallic ball that fell into remote grassland in Namibia. Photo / Supplied
The mysterious metallic ball that fell into remote grassland in Namibia. Photo / Supplied

It was hailed as a doomsday device, an instrument from a weather balloon or proof that extra terrestrial life existed.

But the mysterious metal sphere fell to the ground in a remote area of northern Namibia has now been identified as a hydrazine tank from an unmanned rocket, commonly used in satellite launches.

When the 5.9kg, 35.5-centimeter ball smashed to earth in mid- November it sparked a national security issue with the Namibian authorities asking NASA for help in identifying it.

Adrian Chen of Gawker reported that it was most likely a fuel tank for storing hydrazine on unmanned rockets. He said this after a commentator wrote on his blog: 'For anyone wondering what it actually is, it's likely a 39-litre hydrazine bladder tank.

'They're used on unmanned rockets for satellite launches, which would explain why they're falling down in such a specific geographic footprint.'

When the ball fell it caused a crater 30cm deep and 4m wide, although it was found some 18m away.

Locals claimed to have heard several explosions in the days before it was discovered by a farmer on his land.

Some claimed that it could be an escaped particle from the Large Hadron Collider, reindeer droppings or a Quaffle from the Harry Potter films.

Police forensics director Paul Ludik said that the ball was discovered a month ago but was only made public this week. Whilst it was made of a 'sophisticated material', it was something that was known to mankind.

He explained that the explosion heard by locals could have been the sonic boom when it broke the sound barrier coming down to Earth, or by the impact on the ground.

The compound appeared to be a 'metallic compound normally used in space vehicles,' although he would not be surprised it it was actually from a normal aircraft.

Police deputy inspector general Vilho Hifindaka added that the sphere, which landed 480 miles from the Namibian capital Windhoek, did not pose any danger.

He said: 'It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first'.

The find sparked speculation on the internet that it could finally be proof of extra terrestrial life, even though it bore a passing resemblance to the head of a character from the children's series Teletubbies.

Earlier this year Britain and the rest of the world was put on alert when one of NASA's satellites broke up and crashed to Earth.

Huge chunks of titanium up to 350lbs from car-sized Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite tore through the atmosphere at 1,800mph but the best NASA could guess was that they landed somewhere south of Inverness on the equator.

To try and reassure the public it also revealed that the odds of being hit were miniscule.

Weeks later Germany's Roentgen satellite crashed to Earth and split up into 30 huge chunks including one which weighed 880lbs.


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