November 24, 2020

Mysterious object falls from sky onto Navajo Nation: Was it from space? Or is there a more earthly explanation?

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s a satellite. Or maybe a weather balloon.

Navajo Nation officials say it fell from the sky Wednesday and landed in remote Dennehotso, a community on reservation areas of Arizona.

Tully Begay, vice president of the tribe’s Dennehotso Chapter, told The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY Network, the object landed about 1,200 feet from his home while he was away in Tuba City.

He said he began to get calls from relatives at about 1 p.m. on Nov. 18 saying they witnessed the crash and captured it on photo and video.

One of the photos was later shared on Facebook by Navajo Nation Council Delegate Nate Brown. The gray object in the photo appeared to have four large solar panels and rested upon dirt in a remote area. An orange object nearby appears to be a parachute.

Officials say a satellite fell from the sky and landed on the Navajo Nation on Nov. 18, 2020.
Officials say a satellite fell from the sky and landed on the Navajo Nation on Nov. 18, 2020.

The Navajo Police Department confirmed officers responded to the area after receiving reports about an object that fell from the sky, said department spokesperson Christina Tsosie.

Tsosie described the object as a satellite, which crash-landed. There were no reports of injuries or property damage, she said.

The cause of the crash was unknown and the “satellite material” was released to employees from a company called Polar Field Services, she said.

Company officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. According to the company website, the Colorado-based firm specializes in providing logistics and support for expeditions to locations in extreme climates.

While tribal officials said the object appeared to be a satellite, it seems similar to an object that crashed in Michigan last year.

That object turned out to be a high-altitude weather balloon. Polar Field uses similar balloons in its operations.

The balloon that crashed in Michigan had been launched by Samsung as part of a “SpaceSelfie” ad campaign and crashed because of unexpected weather conditions, according to news reports at the time.

If this week’s object was from space, it wouldn’t be the first time a piece of extra-terrestrial junk hit the Earth.

According to the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, more than 170 million pieces of space debris are currently orbiting the earth, old satellites and fragments from disintegration, erosion and collisions.

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