'Space ball' drops on Namibia

December 22, 2011
A photo provided by the National Forensic Science Institute shows a giant metallic ball, 1.1 metre in diameter and weighing some 6 kilograms (13 pounds), that fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia. Baffled authorities were prompted to contact NASA and the European space agency.

A large metallic ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.

The hollow ball with a circumference of 1.1 metres (43 inches) was found near a village in the north of the country some 750 kilometres (480 miles) from the capital Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.

Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said.

With a diameter of 35 centimetres (14 inches), the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of "two halves welded together".

It was made of a "metal alloy known to man" and weighed six kilogrammes (13 pounds), said Ludik.

It was found 18 metres from its landing spot, a hole 33 centimetres deep and 3.8 meters wide.

Several such balls have dropped in , Australia and Latin America in the past twenty years, authorities found in an Internet search.

The sphere was discovered mid-November, but authorities first did tests before announcing the find.

Police deputy inspector general Vilho Hifindaka concluded the sphere did not pose any danger.

"It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first," he said.

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Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
It's probably something left over from the Gemini or Apollo program, or the Russian's early programs.

Don't worry, had you been smashed by this, you would have been compensated...maybe...if you had a good enough lawyer.

Probably, they'd just deny it ever happened.
roboferret
5 / 5 (20) Dec 22, 2011
Its just a plain ol' regular space onion
Dichotomy
4.5 / 5 (17) Dec 22, 2011
first coconuts, then glass bottles, and now this!?! The Gods Must be Crazy!
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) Dec 22, 2011
Crack one open, see what's inside (at least the melted residue of the stuff.

Remains of a gyroscope?

The metal alloy composition should be able to help pinpoint what it is (unless it's the rest of some military stuff. I doubt they'll step forward to announce what it is)

baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.

Maybe they should also ask Roskosmos about this. After all: They, too, have put substantial amounts of stuff into space.
_nigmatic10
3 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2011
Several such balls have dropped in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in the past twenty years, authorities found in an Internet search.


It's raining balls! Seriously, though, Why just in this area? Any record of anyone putting a similar type of object into orbit or sub-orbit for testing? Ballistics test maybe?
Sonhouse
4.8 / 5 (18) Dec 22, 2011
So make up your mind, is it 1.1 meters in circumference or 1.1 meters in diameter? Is it both? That would REALLY be alien:)
Isaacsname
4.9 / 5 (15) Dec 22, 2011
They should put it under a heatlamp and see what hatches..
Pawe_Guzik
4 / 5 (15) Dec 22, 2011
dragon balls exists :D
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2011
Seriously, though, Why just in this area?

Probably in other areas, too. But most of these things probably either
- fall into the sea (i.e. no one notices)
- fall into jungle areas (i.e. no one notices and if anyone does then they are next to impossible to find)
- fall into the large parts of asia that are uninhabited (if they're russian then the Russians probably don't announce any that fall on their territory...actually this is one indication that hints that these things are of russian origin)

North America and Europe are smaller (by area) compared to Africa (and anything going down in Canada would probably remain unnoticed, as well). So the probabilities are low that something would come down there.
DGBEACH
2.8 / 5 (16) Dec 22, 2011
Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, maybe?
h20dr
5 / 5 (9) Dec 22, 2011
More than likely a reservoir for propellant from a satellite that broke apart.
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2011
After a bit of a google I found that the event in Australia they refer to is probably the "Ashburton balls incident" of 1972 which can be traced back to the failed Kosmos 482 mission (a Venus probe).

http://en.wikiped...smos_482

Presumably the balls are pressurized propellant reservoirs.

roboferret
4.3 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
On a serious note for that weight and dimensions, it's only a couple of mm thick assuming steel, double that for titanium, so it's almost certainly hollow. It's discoloured as if heat tempered, and there appears to be splatter marks, possibly from re-entry? I'm betting on a hydrazine fuel tank something like this: http://www.psi-pc...ucts.htm
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (10) Dec 22, 2011
Like I said, it's a oxygen tank.

nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/ap13acc.html

Maybe a hydrogen tank

universetoday.com/63342/13-things-that-saved-apollo-13-part-9-position-of-the-tanks/

Not saying it's from Apollo 13, just saying...
roboferret
5 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
A little googling later, it looks a lot like a hydrazine bladder tank. http://cs.astrium...nks.html
Vendicar_Decarian
3.6 / 5 (18) Dec 22, 2011
Somewhere on Mars, a transparent gelatinous alien is missing his/her bladder tank.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (7) Dec 22, 2011
Sure it's not the toilet-tank float from the ISS ?
tadchem
4.6 / 5 (9) Dec 22, 2011
Space robots lay eggs!!!
Cave_Man
4.1 / 5 (13) Dec 22, 2011
Well they found the one, now wheres my other one?
LKD
4.5 / 5 (16) Dec 22, 2011
2 days later, Mythbusters sends out a press release remarking: "So that's where that went..."
rubberman
3.7 / 5 (9) Dec 22, 2011
20,000 years into the future mankinds CO2 emissions result in a new type of carbon hailstone that plummets to earth so fast it penetrates the barrier of spacetime and lands in the past....
Enh...still not as good as a space onoin
gunslingor1
5 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2011
LOL, Great funny theories~~~~!!! LOLLOL. How about this one:
http://physicswor...ws/47802

Mystery solved?
Moebius
2 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2011
From space? I doubt it, the crater is too shallow. More likely explosions from a construction site.
panorama
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2011
From space? I doubt it, the crater is too shallow. More likely explosions from a construction site.

Maybe they just set it there for the picture. Even if it were from a construction site there would be more of a crater than what is pictured. I couldn't find any other pictures of it besides the one attached to this article.
richgibula
5 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2011
I thought everyone knew about Space Balls.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
From space? I doubt it, the crater is too shallow.
Anything that enters the atmosphere - and didn't enter it at exorbitant speed - will be slowed to terminal velocity. terminal velocity is the speed at which acceleration due to gravity is negated by increase in air friction.

E.g. the terminal velocity of a skydiver is between 200 and 900km/h (depending on whether he tries to be aerodynamic or not)
NotAsleep
not rated yet Dec 22, 2011
Don't worry, had you been smashed by this, you would have been compensated...maybe...if you had a good enough lawyer.

If a metallic object this size hit you from outter space, you wouldn't be alive to hire a lawyer anyway
Xbw
2 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
It is obviously a shallow water buoy. The guy in charge of placing it missed the mark by about 100 miles....up.

Needless to say, he was fired.
Pirouette
1.9 / 5 (13) Dec 22, 2011
Actually, it's from Minister Looey Farakhan's and Howhut's last trip aboard the Mothership that their alien buddies from outer space took them for a ride out to the Oort Cloud and back again. Minister Looey's alien friends come from a small planet just beyond the Solar System, which is where Looey Looey was taken after the aliens abused him sexually which he doesn't remember. The ball was a souvenir he got from the inhabitants who live on that planet who are also Islamists just like the Minister Farakhan after he converted them. Unfortunately, the ball fell out of the hatch while they were above Namibia and nearly killed an antelope.
:)
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
Like I said, it's a oxygen tank.

nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/ap13acc.html

Maybe a hydrogen tank

universetoday.com/63342/13-things-that-saved-apollo-13-part-9-position-of-the-tanks/

Not saying it's from Apollo 13, just saying...
A 14" O2 tank? Another mystery question: why can't nanoQC post usable links like everybody else? Is he not smart enough to do so, or is he TOO smart to do so?
that_guy
5 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
Like I said, it's a oxygen tank.

nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/ap13acc.html

Maybe a hydrogen tank

universetoday.com/63342/13-things-that-saved-apollo-13-part-9-position-of-the-tanks/

Not saying it's from Apollo 13, just saying...


You didn't, and it's not.

Apollo O2 tank was 26 inches in diameter (less than a meter) and appx 82 inches in circumference (Over 2 Meters). Does not meet the measurements. At all. The hydrogen tank on apollo was not a sphere.

Seriously nano, do you have a genetic defect that prevents you from admitting someone else figured it out correctly before you?

Most missions, including all multi-part missions, such as apollo, are staged in LEO. LEO trash only lasts a few years before re-entry.

This is either from a RECENT LEO mission, or from a GTO orbit, which means it's something vastly different from our early missions - GTO is most likely some kind of Spy/communications/Weather, or similar satellite.
UnlimitedRealms
3 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2011
Between the 1960's and the 1980's , both the US and the USSR having ICBM's pointed at each other , both were also developing counter measures to knock down those same missles in the event of a nuclear attack .
Though the US attempted to creat high tech anti missles weapons and/or just anti missles , the USSR went with a more practical way , missles loaded with balls and/or barrings that would be released/exploded in front of an ICBM so as to shread it before re-enty .
If 1 or 2 self destructed and/or missed fired , the debris would not fall all at once , but slowly rain down for decades , one at a time as each one slows enough to fall to earth
that_guy
5 / 5 (3) Dec 22, 2011
debris that results from a crash or self destruct in space would almost certainly cause it to rain down in smaller or broken pieces, rather than in a single, nominally intact piece.

The evidence points to this breaking off during re-entry or being jettisoned.
Mahal_Kita
2.6 / 5 (5) Dec 22, 2011
Like.. Don't they have Google in Africa?
You see 'm touching the tank and run away.. Come back and repeat.. Until they're sure it won't bite.. Science in Africa.. Gawd..

So.. Why isn't it burnt up by reentry..
kochevnik
3.7 / 5 (6) Dec 22, 2011
It's Al Qaeda again. Time to repeal the constitution.
Jayman
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2011
Left testicle of ET.
_ucci_oo
4.3 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2011
Like.. Last I checked, people in Africa are more concerned with their next meal was coming from.
Oh, and they're also dealing with drought and disease, people there are dropping like flys, AIDS is still epidemic there(Google that). I think they have other things to attend too than a scrap steel ball falling out of the sky.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2011
Last I checked, people in Africa are more concerned with their next meal was coming from.

Go there.
Such sweeping generalisations only show that you don't have the least bit of knowledge about Africa (apart from what you see on the boob tube).
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (9) Dec 23, 2011
roboferret
5 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2011
@Isaacsname
http://fernlea.tripod.com/tank.html

???


Spot on, nice find. I think we have a winner! dimensions and weight are near identical, similar ablation marks. It's interesting this new one doesn't have the same micrometeorite scarring, indicative of an internal tank, or possibly a much shorter period in space.
Pirouette
1.9 / 5 (10) Dec 23, 2011
Looks like Isaacs has solved the mystery. Congrats Isaacs. . . .(giving virtual pat on the back)
Who would've thunk it? A Russian helium tank falling on Nabimian soil. I would sue.
that_guy
4 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2011
So.. Why isn't it burnt up by reentry..

I think you could point to several theories.
First, we've seen pieces of satellites come down that were partially intact. So there's empirical evidence that it can happen.

Now, one easy theory is that as a satellite crashed, it was oriented in a way to protect the tank from the brunt of re-entry. Then the tank broke off as the satellite tumbled.

I personally believe that the tank broke off early, or re-entered by itself. Why? Look at it - It clearly shows the scars of re-entry. This one has clearly been burned.

Why can it survive? Consider the weight to surface area ratio. That thing is much bigger than the pic suggests. And it is light. This means that when it enters the atmosphere, it's period of time at hypersonic re-entry speeds will be much shorter - and thus more likely to survive intact. Probably why there are multiple reports of these things.

Just checked Isaacs link. We have a winner. :)
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2011
So.. Why isn't it burnt up by reentry..

Some materials are harduer than others. If it's a titanium sphere then it could well survive those few seconds until it reaches terminal velocity (after that there's no problem. Skydivers don't burn up)

If it is a bladder that contained a (volatile) propellant then the evaporation of that propellant could transport a lot of heat away. If it was a hydrogen tank then it was very cold to begin with.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Dec 23, 2011
Looks like Isaacs has solved the mystery. Congrats Isaacs. . . .(giving virtual pat on the back)
Who would've thunk it? A Russian helium tank falling on Nabimian soil. I would sue.
Nabimia is right next to bostwanna which is somewhere near dimwitonia where we finds the elefarts
http://www.facebo...9?v=info
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2011
Looks like Isaacs has solved the mystery. Congrats Isaacs. . . .(giving virtual pat on the back)
Who would've thunk it? A Russian helium tank falling on Nabimian soil. I would sue.


Should I dance a little jig ?

:D

http://www.youtub...aynext=1
Pirouette
1.9 / 5 (9) Dec 23, 2011
@Nano. . .you can dispense with the jig. We have plenty of entertainment from Ghost LOL
Thanks for the snappy tune. I see you are very cultured besides being intelligent.
Isaacsname
5 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2011
Lol, thanks, cultured and intelligent I don't know about, but I've seen some things, that's for sure.

If live isn't a grand adventure though, you're probably not taking full advantage of the experience.
-------------------------------

On another note, I never thought when I grew up that garbage would be randomly falling out of the sky.

I'd still love to see some future LEO/NEO " junk density " projections based on the past accumulation rate, we've all put so much out there in 50 years.

Makes me wonder if they'll give space debris warnings with the weather forecast in 2050 or so.
Pirouette
2.3 / 5 (9) Dec 24, 2011
oooops. . .sorry Isaacs. . . .I mistakenly called you "Nano". . .I'm glad no one else caught that gaffe. LOL
I've had a couple of typos today. You know, Xmas shopping is tiring me out.
Mondeo
1 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2011
Its a wheater balloon.
shannon_bohle
not rated yet Dec 25, 2011
Looks like one of the "bumps" of the failed Mars-bound Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which is expected to begin falling to Earth.
www dot forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2011/12/12/russian-scientist-apologizes-for-failed-mars-mission/ and www dot russianspaceweb.com/phobos_grunt.html
sunapi386
not rated yet Dec 26, 2011
Strange how it doesn't seem to have any heat related damage...
that_guy
not rated yet Dec 27, 2011
oooops. . .sorry Isaacs. . . .I mistakenly called you "Nano". . .I'm glad no one else caught that gaffe. LOL
I've had a couple of typos today. You know, Xmas shopping is tiring me out.

When I read over this, I was all "What?! Isaac is Nano? I liked Isaac.."

lol.
Will_Bishop
not rated yet Jan 04, 2012
My bad! I had left my TARDIS doors open while flying above Earth, and it rolled out by accident.

It's nothing. Merely a explodey wodey dodathingymawotsit. :)
azaroth_kaosgoblin
1 / 5 (1) Jan 04, 2012
"...Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand..."

Someone is clearly launching them from somewhere within range. They travel up into the lower atmosphere, then come back down a few miles away. To anyone unable to see the site of launch, it would appear that its dropping from space.

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