Object from space causes commotion in Brazil

An unidentified metal object that could have come from a space rocket has caused a huge commotion after it fell to earth in a small town in northern Brazil, reports say.

The spherical object, which weighs about 30 kilograms and has a diameter of one metre, was found on Wednesday in a rural area of the town of Anapurus.

"The noise I heard made me weak in the knees. I went to see what it was. I thought it was an aeroplane that had crashed, or an earthquake," resident Jose Valdir Mendes told the news website G1.

He said the object fell to Earth just six metres from his home and that the impact left a one-metre hole.

Local residents came pouring out of their houses to see what had happened and alerted their neighbours in the nearby village of Mata Roma, who were equally shaken by the event.

"There was an enormous disturbance here. Some were afraid it might have something to do with that 2012 story," Mata Roma resident Max Mauro Garreto said, alluding to the supposed Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012.

"Others said it was an alien. But I think it's a piece of a satellite that fell from space," the schoolteacher said.

Meanwhile, astrophysicist Gustavo Rojas of the Sao Carlos Federal University said that only scientific analysis will determine exactly what it is, but said that a similar piece fell on Uganda in 2002 that came from the European satellite launch rocket Ariane 4.

"It's highly probable that it's the helium tank from the Ariane 4 rocket that was launched in 1997. Its return to the atmosphere was scheduled for the morning of (February) 22, according to the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies," Rojas was cited as saying by the online news site UOL.

-AAP

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