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June 14, 2013

NASA: Amesbury rock came from Soviet spacecraft

NASA confirms: Rock came from Soviet spacecraft


Green didn’t think it could be because it wasn’t metallic, but he ended up bringing it inside and cleaning it up anyway. Not long later, his sister-in-law, a Newburyport teacher, came over for a visit, saw the rock and took it, sending it to NASA to be analyzed.

A year went by, and eventually Green assumed the strange rock was gone for good, until a couple of weeks ago when he received a package in the mail from NASA containing his rock, a plaque and a letter from NASA Analysis Engineer George Leussis confirming that the rock had indeed fallen from space.

“It’s funny that the week I got it back, I happened to wake up and think to myself ‘I wonder what happened to my rock, I don’t think I’m ever going to see it again,’” Green said. “And then it came back.”

The letter confirmed that while the rock originated on Earth, it had definitely been subjected to a fall from low Earth orbit, which was the reason for the rock’s green color and strange properties.

“The material shows a composition similar to that used as ballast by the soviet space program starting in the mid 1980s,” Leussis wrote. “This places its most likely origin as Mir, or one of the Progress-M class Russian resupply vehicles, that had undergone a TPS failure.”

Mir was a Russian space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, and at one point it held the record for the longest uninterrupted human presence in space and the distinction of being the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth. The International Space Station has since surpassed both records.

Mir fell to earth in March 2001, with the bulk of it landing in the South Pacific ocean. It’s unclear how a piece of it could have fallen so far from the bulk of the spacecraft.

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