Houston, we have a question

MARY WITSEY
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
Bluff fisherman Russell Trow with space junk
MARY WITSEY/Supplied
OUT OF SPACE: Bluff fisherman Russell Trow with the unusual sphere he discovered on the Titi (Muttonbird) Islands that is believed to be American space junk.

Relevant offers

A Bluff fisherman has found what is believed to be a piece of space junk from an American space shuttle.

Russell Trow stumbled upon the large sphere during a trip to the Titi (Muttonbird) Islands last month.

"It was sitting about 150 metres above the waterline. It would have needed a tidal wave to get there. It's a bit of a mystery."

He estimates the object weighs between 80 and 100kg and has burn marks on the outside.

Trow commissioned a helicopter to lift it off the shore, where it was later deposited on a boat and brought back to Bluff.

"I just thought I would bring it home to see what it was. It's just something different."

A fisherman of 40 years, Trow said while the ball could be a buoy off a fishing vessel, he had never seen anything like it.

The discovery had created a stir among space enthusiasts, with many agreeing the fragments of failed spacecraft, redundant satellites or spent booster rockets could sometimes make it back to Earth.

Southland Astronomical Society treasurer Bob Evans believes it is a piece of space junk.

"I'm 99 per cent sure."

More than 40 years ago, Evans was involved in the discovery of some similarly shaped space balls, from a Russian rocket that failed when launching a Venus probe, found near Ashburton in 1972.

Southland nature historian Lloyd Esler is adamant it is the real thing. "I can confirm that it is indeed from a rocket - I think an American Delta 2 or Delta 4."

Esler has Southland's only other example of space debris, found on the Fiordland coast in 2004.

"It is identical to my one but shows a nice scorch pattern where it was heated on re-entry. It's a very significant find."

Ad Feedback

- The Southland Times

Comments

st strap Communites
Our E-Editions

Read our free publications online.

giveaway
Win with the Times

Win with us!

Stl paper logo
Subscriber services

Click here for subscriber news and information.

ST digital edition thumb
Digital edition

Read The Southland Times online with our digital edition.

Newspaper
Subscribe

Click here to subscribe to our publications

Special offers
Opinion poll

Are you offended by the sight of sportspeople spitting on the field?

Yes, it's disgusting

No, but it would be better if they were a little more discrete

Not at all, better out than in

Vote Result

Related story: Editorial: Not-so-great expectorations

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

Daily diversions
stimes pan #stayclassysouthland

Cartoons by Chicane, aka Mark Winter

Quizzes

Today's puzzles

Reviews

Your Family News
Birth notices and anniversaries

Celebrations

View marriage and birth notices from around the region

Death notices

Death Notices

View obituaries from around the region