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Mystery cylinder that washed up on Australian beach is Indian space debris, officials confirm

<i>Core News/Reuters</i><br/>The object had intrigued local residents.
Core News/Reuters
The object had intrigued local residents.

By Chris Lau and Sania Farooqui, CNN

(CNN) — 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 over the object’s origin.

The cylinder was part of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had previously launched, Sudheer Kumar, a director at ISRO, told CNN.

The Australian Space Agency had previously tweeted on Monday that it had concluded its investigation into the object, and had reached the same conclusion.

Since it turned up in July on a beach at Green Head, a coastal town 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Perth, the copper-colored cylinder had drawn in 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 might have come from.

But police had said that space junk was the most likely answer. The Australian Space Agency said Monday that if any further suspected debris is found, it should be reported to local authorities.

“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, who will provide further confirmation to determine next steps, including considering obligations under the United Nations space treaties,” the Australian space agency added.

The bulky cylinder, which stands taller than a human, appears to be damaged at one end and is covered with barnacles, suggesting it has spent a significant amount of time at sea before washing up.

ISRO confirmed to CNN that there were “no such plans as of now 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 said previously that the item did not appear to originate from a commercial aircraft and vowed to guard it until its removal.

Space rockets are multi-stage, meaning they are made up of various compartments carrying fuel, each of which are dumped in a sequential order when the propellant runs out, with much of the debris falling back to Earth.

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