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Unidentified objects found in Tobago Cays Marine Park

Unidentified objects found in Tobago Cays Marine Park


Up to press time on Wednesday, National Security officials were unable to confirm the origin of large objects, suspected of being parts of a space craft, which were discovered in the Tobago Cays Marine Park on Tuesday.{{more}}

The pieces were discovered by a group of tourists from the Ukraine, on Petit Tabac, one of the five uninhabited islands making up the protected area.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that the area where the objects were found is being secured by members of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) of the Police Force and rangers of the Tobago Cays Marine Park.

He said photos of the debris have been forwarded to Commissioner of Police Keith Miller, who is in Barbados attending a meeting of the United States Southern Command with the Regional Security System (RSS). Assistance is being sought from the United States in the identification of the objects.

Information reaching SEARCHLIGHT is that the tourists, who were among the group which discovered the object, informed Coast Guard personnel that they are of the belief that the object is a part of the remains of a Russian Spacecraft Phobos-Grunt, which was launched on November 9, 2011. The Moscow Times reported on Monday, December 5, that “the standard Russian space probe Phobos-Grunt has begun breaking up in low Earth orbit”.

According to an Associated Press report from Moscow, the unmanned Phobos-Grunt was to head to the Mars moon of Phobos on a 2 and a half year mission to take soil samples and fly them back to Earth. The probe, however, became stuck in Earth’s orbit after its launch, and attempts to send commands that could propel it toward the Mars moon were unsuccessful.

The report further stated that Russian deputy space chief Vitaly Davydov said that if the spacecraft is not sent to Mars, it could fall to Earth sometime between late December and late February.

The AP report added that the failed spacecraft weighs 14.6 tons; with about 12 tons, being highly toxic fuel. Experts say that if the fuel had frozen, some could survive the plummet to Earth, but if the fuel is liquid, it will likely combust from the heat of re-entering the atmosphere.

The object discovered on Petit Tabac is located at Latitude 12 degrees 37’ 45” North and Longitude 61 degrees 20’ 02” West. It is approximately 15 feet in length, five feet in width and has the numbers 14c738-1120-290, 14C7811-292-939 and the word ‘Solutions’ written on it. (OS)