Three Indian villages discover mysterious ‘space debris’ as police launch probe

Representational image of space debris  (ESA)
Representational image of space debris (ESA)

Mysterious “space debris” has reportedly been found in three villages not far from each other in India’s western Gujarat state.

Residents of the Bhalej, Khambholaj and Rampura villages in Gujarat’s Anand district reported discovering scattered fragments of the suspected debris on Thursday.

Villagers had rushed out of their homes after they heard loud thuds that shook the ground, reported local newspaper Ahmedabad Mirror.

Their curiosity led them to approach the police about the debris, which was shaped like large metal balls, after which officials sent the fragments for forensic analysis.

Locals said the first debris fragment, a black-coloured ball weighing aroung 5kg, fell at about 4.45pm on Thursday in Bhalej.

The three strange fragments fell across villages no more than 15km away from each other, reported the Indian Express.

Local police confirmed the initiation of a probe and said a forensics analysis team was investigating.

Ajit Rajiaan, a superintendent of police in Anand, told the Indian Express that the metal balls were suspected to be “satellite debris”.

“The first ball fell around 4.45pm and shortly after there were similar reports from two other locations,” he said.

Police said the villagers didn’t report any injuries.

“No injury or casualty has occurred as fortunately the debris fell away from a house in Khambholaj, while in the other two places it fell in an open area,” said Mr Rajiaan.

“We are not sure what kind of space debris this is but it has fallen from the sky as per accounts of villagers.”

Police said they will wait for a report from the forensics team.

According to the Orbital Debris Quarterly News report published by Nasa’s Orbital Debris Programme Office in April this year, there are 25,182 pieces of space debris of sizes larger than 10cm in lower Earth orbits within 2,000km of the planet’s surface.

The report mentioned India’s contribution to space debris had increased sharply in 2019 after the country’s first-ever anti-satellite test.

According to Nasa, trash in orbits of less than 600km from Earth will fall to the surface in a few years, while debris in orbits greater than 1,000km will circle the planet for a century or more.