Countries must return any 'foreign' space objects found in their territory to owners

The Australian Space Agency has concluded that the dome-shaped mystery object that washed up on a beach in Western Australia was from an expended Indian rocket. The agency said it is communicating with India's space organization ISRO to determine next steps.

On July 15, the object was discovered near the beach in Green Head in Western Australia (WA) about 250 kilometres north of the city of Perth.

The Australian Space Agency tweeted, "We have concluded the object located on a beach near Jurien Bay in Western Australia is most likely debris from an expended third-stage of a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The PSLV is a medium-lift launch vehicle operated by @isro.”

The space agency also said, "The debris remains in storage and it is working with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), who will provide further confirmation to determine the next steps, including considering obligations under the United Nations space treaties." It added, “The Australian Space Agency is committed to the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, including debris mitigation, and continues to highlight this on the international stage.”

According to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, countries are required to return any "foreign" space objects found in their territory to the owners, the BBC reported.

"If the community spots any further suspected debris they should report it to local authorities and notify the Australian Space Agency via [email protected]," the agency tweeted.

Space debris both man-made and natural has a habit of coming down in WA's vast outback, although it is rare for it to be found washed up on the state's 12,895 kilometres of coastline.

Most famously, the Skylab space station came hurtling back to Earth in 1979, with pieces of the rogue station found in the most remote of outback locations in Balladonia, north-east of Esperance in WA's south.

The local council hit NASA with a $400 littering fine, which reportedly remains unpaid.

But scientists with their eyes trained on the skies have also recovered fragments of space rocks that have made it through the atmosphere and slammed into the ground in WA's outback.