By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 31, Jul 2023, 18:26 pm IST | UPDATED: 31, Jul 2023, 18:27 pm IST
New Delhi: A dome-shaped mysterious object that washed up on a remote Australian beach earlier this month is 'most likely' debris from the Indian Space Research Organisation's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Australia's space agency said on Monday.
"We have concluded the object located on a beach near Jurien Bay in Western Australia is most likely debris from an expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)," the Australian Space Agency said on Twitter, days after the canister was discovered near the beach in Green Head in Western Australia, about 250 kilometres north of the city of Perth.
The PSLV is an expendable medium-lift launch vehicle designed and operated by the Indian space agency.
The Australian Space Agency also said that the debris remains in storage and that they are working with the ISRO, who will provide further confirmation to determine next steps, including considering obligations under the United Nations space treaties,
"The Australian Space Agency is committed to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including debris mitigation, and continues to highlight this on the international stage," they said, and added that if the community spots any further suspected debris they should report it to local authorities.
Within an hour of the first media report on the unusual find on July 17, many social media users already came up with a theory the object was a piece of space junk from an Indian rocket. Some even theorised the debris could have come from a specific mission -- PSLV-CA C46 -- which launched in May 2019 and dropped some debris in the ocean to Australia's north-west and south-east.
It is noteworthy that space debris -- both man-made and natural -- has a habit of coming down in Western Australia's vast outback, although it is rare for it to be found washed up on the state's 12,895 kilometres of coastline.
Most famously, the Skylab space station, which was the first US space station launched by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), came hurtling back to Earth in 1979, with pieces of the rogue station found in the most remote of outback locations in Balladonia, north-east of Esperance in WA's south. The local council hit NASA with a USD 400 littering fine.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is the third generation launch vehicle of India. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages and has launched numerous Indian and foreign customer satellites.
The vehicle has also successfully launched two spacecraft -- Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 -- that later travelled to Moon and Mars respectively.
PSLV has also been used to launch various satellites into Geosynchronous and Geostationary orbits, like satellites from the IRNSS Constellation
After its first successful launch in October 1994, PSLV emerged as a reliable and versatile 'workhorse' launch vehicle of India.
The PSLV is capable of placing multiple payloads into orbit, thus multi-payload adaptors are used in the payload fairing. The payload performance of the vehicle and mission flexibility is evident from the challenging missions where multi-orbit and multi-satellite missions are accomplished.
The long string of consecutive successes and multi-satellite launch capability has reinforced the status of PSLV as a reliable, versatile and affordable launcher in the global market.