Satellite Imagery of Objects on The Indian Ocean
Satellite imagery provided to Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) of objects that may be possible debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in a revised area 185 km (115 miles) ... Reuters/Australian Martitime Safety Authority

The space debris that fell into the Indian Ocean some time back seems to be the remains of a rocket motor that propelled a NASA probe to the Moon in 1998.

Though the identity of the debris that plunged into the Indian Ocean in Nov. 2015 is still not completely certain, NASA says the “leading candidate” is the translunar injection module of Lunar Prospector.

The module propelled the rocket and detached itself from the main spacecraft before it was deliberately pushed into the lunar south pole in July 1999, says Paul Chodas, an asteroid tracker at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The debris, known as WT1190F, is the only artificial object to make an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s orbit at a precisely predicted place and moment. The movement of the debris was monitored from a chartered data and also through ground-based observatories.

The researchers combined the various observations to construct the elliptical trajectory of the debris around Earth and beyond the Moon’s orbit. That path bears the “signature of something launched to the Moon,” Chodas says.

The researchers have eliminated some other older lunar missions, such as the Apollo mission, as possible sources of the debris. Several other new missions have also been rejected by scientists as the possible source of debris, reports

The process of elimination has led researchers to relate the debris to the Lunar Prospector. Scientists have also found endorsement of this theory in uncover sightings of WT1190F dating back before 2009.

Meanwhile, for the second time in 10 days, space debris has fallen in northern Vietnam, reports Thanhnien News. On Jan. 2, 2016, three space balls were found in northern Vietnam. On Jan. 12, 2016, another spherical object, believed to be from outer space, was found in the same area.