Beachgoers in Florida discovered pieces of debris in the water on Sunday that appears to be from a space rocket of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Tom MacLaughlin, the beachgoer who found the debris, said that they spotted heavy metal pieces near the Sun Tower Hotel located on Fort Lauderdale Beach. He explained that they initially thought the pieces were either part of kit airplane or a race boat model that was destroyed in a crash.
When they looked at the debris closely, MacLaughlin said that they noticed a logo that seemed to be from the ESA on one of the metal pieces.
Brooke Trace, a local artist in Fort Lauderdale Beach who took a photograph of the heavy metal debris, said called the scene was "pretty crazy."
Trace, who owns the North Beach Art Gallery in the city, said that she thought the large metal piece was part of a wing of an airplane, but it turned out to be a piece of a rocket.
Officials from NASA confirmed that the debris found in Fort Lauderdale Beach was indeed a part of a single-use rocket used by the European Space Agency to transport one of its satellites. The American space agency said that the rocket was launched in French Guyana, and when the spacecraft broke up over the ocean, a part of it was carried by the waves to South Florida.
Dr. Angel Rodriguez, an oceanographer at Broward College, explained how parts of the ESA rocket could have drifted toward Florida and washed ashore in Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Rodriguez said that the space debris most likely have fallen into the part of the Atlantic Ocean north of South America where it was caught in the stream of the north equatorial current. This powerful water current is what takes most of the debris in the North Atlantic and washes them ashore in Florida.
Plane wing washes up on Fort Lauderdale beach at Sun Tower Hotel. Police are investigating and have contacted the FAA pic.twitter.com/0zTzUT3Jmx
— NOBE Art Gallery (@BrookeTrace) August 2, 2015
The piece of the ESA first stage rocket was taken to a tow yard located in Lauderdale Lakes, where it is currently being kept. It is yet to be reclaimed by any party.
The offices of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Space Agency were both contacted regarding the incident.