Vietnam probes mysterious 'space balls' (Update)

January 8, 2016
Vietnamese soldiers inspect a metal ball which landed in the northern province of Tuyen Quang
Vietnamese soldiers inspect a metal ball which landed in the northern province of Tuyen Quang

Vietnam's military is investigating the appearance of three mysterious metal balls—believed to be debris from space—which landed in the country's remote north, a senior army official said Friday.

Two metal balls were discovered in northwestern Yen Bai province on January 2, army spokesman Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan told AFP.

Later a larger ball weighing some 45 kilograms (100 pounds) landed in a maize field in neighbouring Tuyen Quang province, he said.

"We are still identifying where they came from," he said, adding the army had determined they did not contain explosives or hazardous material.

The metal balls fell from the sky, he said, scaring local residents.

"Before and after these objects were discovered, the Vietnamese army was not conducting any military activity in the region," Tuan said.

Witnesses told state-run media that they heard what sounded like thunder before the balls plunged to the earth.

The Ministry of Defence has pledged to release the findings of the probe.

Thanh Nien newspaper said that the initial investigation suggested the objects could have been made in Russia and come from missiles or spaceships.

Nguyen Khoa Son, a professor from the Vietnamese Space Science and Technology Program, told the VietnamNet news site that the balls might be the result of a failed satellite launch.

Vietnamese authorities say the metal balls could have fallen from space, from an altitude of less than 100 kilometres (62 miles)
Vietnamese authorities say the metal balls could have fallen from space, from an altitude of less than 100 kilometres (62 miles)

He said the balls did not appear to be damaged and could have fallen from an altitude of less than 100 kilometres (62 miles).

In November, three mysterious objects also fell from the sky onto Spain's southeast.

According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of debris are currently orbiting Earth, and bits of space junk plummet to the planet every year.

Explore further: Space rains junk on Spain (Update)

Related Stories

Japan to launch military space force

August 4, 2014

Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019 that would initially be tasked with protecting satellites from dangerous debris orbiting the Earth, a report said.

China says space debris recovered: report

May 19, 2014

Objects that crashed to the ground in China have been identified as space debris, state media reported, after a Russian rocket carrying a communications satellite fell back to Earth minutes after lift-off.

'Space ball' drops on Namibia

December 22, 2011

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.

Recommended for you

New space industry emerges: on-orbit servicing

November 17, 2018

Imagine an airport where thousands of planes, empty of fuel, are left abandoned on the tarmac. That is what has been happening for decades with satellites that circle the Earth.

SpaceX gets nod to put 12,000 satellites in orbit

November 16, 2018

SpaceX got the green light this week from US authorities to put a constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit in order to boost cheap, wireless internet access by the 2020s.

Electric blue thrusters propelling BepiColombo to Mercury

November 16, 2018

In mid-December, twin discs will begin glowing blue on the underside of a minibus-sized spacecraft in deep space. At that moment Europe and Japan's BepiColombo mission will have just come a crucial step closer to Mercury.

Overflowing crater lakes carved canyons across Mars

November 16, 2018

Today, most of the water on Mars is locked away in frozen ice caps. But billions of years ago it flowed freely across the surface, forming rushing rivers that emptied into craters, forming lakes and seas. New research led ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

geokstr
5 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2016
They should contact the top expert on space balls - Mel Brooks.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.