Monday, December 26, 2011
Space Ball Falls in Namibia
Here is another oddity that begs an explanation. I wish when ‘tests’ are done, the folks could be more forthcoming in describing what was done.
There is really little reason for a metal ball to exist. It is even an open question whether such an item could survive entering the atmosphere somehow if we were to ask the question. The tough spherical surface certainly argues for the possibility. Since others are reported to exist, where are the reports?
The last item suggests that it is a titanium pressure tank that likely held hydrazine once. This means that the best possible test would be for titanium and probably someone was too cheap. In the meantime, it is likely man made space junk. And yes a titanium balloon would surely make it down.
The fact that it has occurred before suggests that titanium pressure tanks holding hydrazine is standard fare in space work. That makes sense of course as it is the best and lightest and most naturally compact fuel you could ask for so long as you are not working on Earth with it.
"Space ball" drops on
AFP – Thu, 22 Dec, 2011
A photo provided by the National Forensic Science Institute shows a giant metallic …
A large metallic ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in
prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency. Namibia
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
according to police forensics director Paul Ludik. Windhoek
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 southern Africa,
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.
Most DM readers will by now have recognised it as one of the ATK 80194-1 Monolithic Titanium Pressurant Tanks fitted to the Orbiting Solar Observatory series of satellites, launched between 1963 and 1975 to record radiation over an 11-year sunspot cycle. One was shot down by the USAF in 1985 (to prove that they could), one never made it into orbit, and three are recorded as re-entering in 1974, '81 and '82. The remaining four satellites have been dead for over thirty years and have probably all re-entered the atmosphere sometime since. My guess is that this indicates the homecoming of the last of them. It could well be the hydrazine tank from OSO4, which had a troubled launch in 1967 and ended up with an elliptical orbit through the Van Allen Belt, rather messing up the radiation recordings. The titanium could be worth a couple of hundred quid scrap, but if there is any hydrazine left (which is quite possible) then best steer clear, it's nasty stuff.