Earlier this month, an object called WT1190F was spotted on a trajectory that will bring it right to Earth. It came here from far beyond the moon, and its hollow nature and cylindrical shape suggest that it’s human-made and not an asteroid or meteorite. It won’t cause any major problems on the ground, but there’s still something troubling: Astronomers don’t know what the heck it is, or why it’s only now coming up on their radar.
Its trajectory is pretty easily understood. It’s headed for an area of space over the Indian Ocean, where it will re-enter the atmosphere at 2:20 p.m. EDT on November 14. Most of it will burn up, according to Nature, but any leftover debris will make sea-fall about 40 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka.
What’s not understood right now, though, is what the object is. It’s all but certainly human-made, and it has an unusual elliptical orbit that takes it twice as far out as the distance of the moon, and something bothered it enough to come back down to Earth. It’s likely a rocket stage or panelling, as it’s only three to seven feet long, and may have been up there for a long, long time. It could even be a piece of debris from the Apollo missions.