Sandy's Mystery Object

More news about the the space rocket debris washed up on the Delphi Club beach, Abaco. The booster rocket fairing found by Sandy fortunately had a serial number on it. Various inquiries have been made and a definitive explanation of the item has now been given by the NTSB. It turns out that the fairing was not, after all, from the Ariane 5 launch in French Guyana. More exciting than that – it comes from a Mars Program launch to put the Space Rover Curiosity on Mars. There’s an excellent Wikipedia article on the mission to be found at WIKIMARS

NTSB - An Independent Federal AgencyBob Swaim at the NTSB has emailed Sandy to say   “The serial number of the fairing fragment is from a part that was on a Delta V [sic – it was in fact an Atlas V, see comments] rocket launch of November 26, 2011. In August, a new car-sized rover will touch down on Mars and you’ll have something from the mission!”  He has kindly provided a link to the launch – see image below and direct link HERE  He has also given a direct link to the NASA MARS PROGRAM site from which I have taken the screen clip below. You will see an image of the Mars Rover Curiosity, and the time countdown until touch-down at the exact moment I took the shot…

I contacted Bill Ailor, Principal Scientist/Engineer, Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies, The Aerospace Corporation AERO CORP thinking a booster fairing might be of interest for their rocket debris database. He writes

Thanks for the notification (and for your excellent web page – looks like a wonderful spot). On the website, we catalog debris that has reentered from orbit and don’t include payload fairings, solid and first stage rocket boosters, and other “range” debris, since these are suborbital and the launch is designed so that the debris impacts is in known safe areas.  That debris can sometimes float outside of the safe area and wash ashore.I should mention that we recently reentered a small device that might one day float to your beach.  I’ve attached a description.  Let us know if you see that one

Although the device he mentions may have in fact have landed a long distance away (the South Pacific even), best keep an eye out for this…REBR Fact Sheet   By a strange coincidence in a huge world, the Aerospace Database shows that in 1965 reentry debris was recovered from a beach on Abaco:

In early 1965 an object having the appearance of a space fragment was reported washed ashore on Abaco Island in the Bahamas Possibly from the Atlas-Mariner I booster which was destroyed by the range safety officer shortly after launch on 22 July 1962, and landed in the designated ocean impact area

Apologies if I have got sidetracked from normal beachcombing duties – shells and stuff – but wildlife blogging doesn’t get more exciting than this – well, unless they find a colony of Abaco parrots on Mars…


STOP PRESS Rocket part now positively ID’d by serial number – and it’s not from Ariane 5. More exciting – it’s from the Mars Program launch of the the Mars Rover ‘Curiosity’. See latest post at  CLICK IMAGE


52 meters / 170 feet, to be precise. The space rocket Ariane 5 is most likely source of Sandy’s mystery object washed up on the Delphi Club beach. See recent post ===>>> SANDY’S MYSTERY OBJECT  for a full explanation. And  here are 2 useful comparative pictures (plus apologies to Leonard Cohen for a feeble pun)



STOP PRESS Rocket part now positively ID’d by serial number – and it’s not from Ariane 5. More exciting – it’s from the Mars Program launch of the the Mars Rover ‘Curioisty’. See latest post at  CLICK IMAGE       

 Kasia’s mystery beachcombing item, posted yesterday, was solved within the day – basically a rock-like accretion of large tubular wormy molluscs of a somewhat unattractive sort. Sandy Walker has now sent me a photo of a baffling object he has found on the club beach to test your ingenuity, or patience. He’s sent it to the NTSB (air-crash investigation etc) for their view. For sure, it isn’t wildlife: however any nautical, aero-nautical, NASA-based or ‘strange white cone’ experts out there might like to contribute an opinion via the COMMENT box or email (spam guard: please convert AT to @)

My contenders, from most to least exciting (1) Rocket nose-cone. But no re-entry scorch marks – maybe it never got that far (2) Light aeroplane engine cowling or whatever the term is (3) Front end of a canoe-type vessel, with a standard Avery 5-slot for’ard rowlock stanchion clip (or maybe a bit of storm-tossed catamaran – Mrs rh)

STOP PRESS Jan 28 Peter Mantle’s latest bulletin from the Delphi Club… and I get to award myself the first prize of a Kalik beer for wild guess (1) above!

Fly me to the moon….

January 28th: Beachcombing at Rolling Harbour produces a great miscellany of shells, corals, beads, fishing floats and the occasional baseball. But a recent find by Sandy had everyone in a panic – a 12-foot chunk of superstructure that looked for all the world like a large piece of aeroplane. Sandy immediately contacted the US National Transportation Safety Board, who initially confirmed a strong resemblance to the tail section of an Airbus A320 passenger jet but wanted to run further investigations of the part numbers. All rather alarming.

But Sandy has just heard again from the NTSB, who now believe it may be part of the Ariane V space rocket, launched from French Guyana. Airbus say it’s not from one of their planes and suggest that it’s probably the nose fairing off an Ariane V booster. Looking at photos and drawings of the booster, this may be right and this would also fit for the eastern exposure of the beach where the part was found. You can see the booster here:

Ariane Space have been contacted and we will let you know what they say. We will also post a pic of the part. In the meantime, Sandy looks a bit, er, spaced out.

Comment: Since it appears to be made of cardboard, no wonder it fell off…