Farmer Mick Miners initially assumed a massive, dark item protruding from the earth in a remote area of his property in New South Wales, Australia, was a dead tree. But upon closer examination and confirmation from experts, he discovered that it had come from space. Later, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) claimed that a SpaceX capsule was responsible.
The discovery was called “unusual” and “interesting” by experts, who added that similar occurrences might grow more frequent. The object made its landing on July 9 in a wide region of fields, but Mr. Miners did not find it until several weeks afterwards.
Following the discovery of two other pieces close by, the ASA urged anyone who stumbled across additional fragments to get in touch with a debris hotline established up by SpaceX. An astronomer from the Australian National University named Dr. Brad Tucker was asked to investigate the object. He is frequently asked to investigate similar finds, the great majority of which turn out not to be space junk. In a video posted online, he stated, “This has been super exciting to see this all up close, I’ve never seen a piece of space junk fall like this,”
The UK’s Warwick University’s Don Pollacco, an astrophysics professor, concurred that it was extremely uncommon for space debris to impact the ground. Every day, things from space fall to Earth, but the vast majority of them, he continued, end up in the oceans, which cover the majority of the world.
Additionally, the sole known instance of a person being struck was Lottie Williams, who was unharmed in 1997 in Oklahoma, US, when a piece of space debris landed on her shoulder. A Chinese rocket fragment that caused damage to structures in the Ivory Coast in 2020 is another occurrence. However, given the recent dramatic increase in the number of rockets deployed into orbit, finds on ground may become increasingly frequent.
Prof. Pollacco stated that the Sun is transitioning into a period of increased activity, which could result in more material falling to Earth. A study from Canada’s University of British Columbia, released in July, found there was a 10% chance that one or more people would be killed by space debris in the following ten years. This finding is perhaps more worrisome.
Prof. Pollacco continues, however, that the possibility of someone getting wounded is virtually zero, adding, “I don’t think people need to be frightened, the likelihood of them getting hit is unbelievably small.”