December 23, 2011
Origin Of Namibian Space Ball Not So Mysterious
Namibian authorities have recently announced the discovery of a large metallic ball which they say fell from the sky and landed in the country´s remote northern grasslands in mid-November.
After conducting a number of tests on the mysterious sphere, the baffled Namibian government opted to contact NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) this week.
“It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first,” he said.
The large spherical object has a circumference of 43 inches and a diameter of 14 inches, and weighs in at about 13 lbs. Authorities of the north African country say that the ball has a roughly textured surface and appears to have been welded together from two separate halves.
The find was made in mid-November by herdsmen some 480 miles north of the country´s capital Windhoek. Local villagers reported hearing what sounded like an explosion several days before finding the object.
Authorities say the metal sphere was found some 60 feet from its initial point of impact where it left behind a hole in the ground almost a foot deep and 12 feet wide.
Namibian authorities say that an Internet search indicated that similar metallic sphere have been discovered in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in recent decades.
Yet those hoping that the interstellar projectile might be a sign of life from beyond should not hold their breath. As space experts have begun pointing out in recent years, the planet´s so-called low-Earth orbit (LEO) has a become increasingly cluttered with space junk. The majority of this disintegrates upon reentry into the Earth´s atmosphere, but some pieces of space junk are tougher than others.
In fact, based on the striking similarity between the Namibian sphere and those found in other countries like Australia and Brazil, experts are already pretty sure that the object is, in astronaut jargon, a ℠Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel´ (COPV). Though it looks alien-esque, these tough hollow balls are used by various space agencies to safely store pressurized gases. COPV´s are typically made of highly durable materials like carbon fiber or Kevlar--which explains how they survive reentry.
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