A mysterious cylinder that washed ashore in Western Australia is debris from an Indian space launch, authorities in both countries have said, ending a flurry of speculation about the object’s origin.
The cylinder was part of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had previously launched, ISRO director Sudheer Kumar told CNN.
The Australian Space Agency had earlier tweeted on Monday that it had completed its investigation of the object and had reached the same conclusion.
Since it appeared in July on a beach at Green Head, a coastal town 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Perth, the copper-colored cylinder had attracted curious local residents eager to catch a glimpse of the unidentified object.
Speculation also erupted online with people posting a host of theories about where it could have come from.
But police had said space junk was the most likely answer. The Australian Space Agency said on Monday that if additional suspected debris is found, it should be reported to local authorities.
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“The PSLV is a medium-lift launch vehicle operated by ISRO. The debris remains in storage and the Australian Space Agency is working with ISRO, which will provide further confirmation to determine next steps, including considering obligations under the UN space treaties,” it added the Australian Space Agency.
The bulky cylinder, which is taller than a human, appears to be damaged at one end and is covered in jewelry, suggesting that it spent a significant amount of time at sea before washing up.
ISRO confirmed to CNN that there were no such plans at present to bring the object back to India.
The Australian Space Agency had urged people to avoid handling and moving the object due to its unknown origin. Police previously said the object did not appear to be from a commercial aircraft and vowed to protect it until it was removed.
Space rockets are multi-stage, meaning they consist of different compartments carrying fuel, each of which is dumped in a sequential order as the propellant runs out and much of the debris falls back to Earth.