Everyone wanted to know about the New Zealand space balls

via Stuff

via Stuff

Sometimes the news just writes itself.  Sometimes.

Newly released documents from the United States State Department have shed light on one of New Zealand’s greatest space oddities.

Throughout the 1970s, Canterbury was showered with space junk – some thought to be real; others proven to be fake.

Metal balls found scattered on paddocks from Lake Aviemore to south of Ashburton in 1972 are widely thought to be of Soviet origin.

In October 1978, two other pieces of space junk made headlines after they were found on the Eiffelton property of John Lovett.

Space balls of fire!  This is getting to be good.  Real or fake?

It was revealed that three of his friends found some old aluminium fish floats, scorched them with a welding torch and dumped them in his paddock.

Documents released by US public records agency MuckRock show the lengths New Zealand scientists had to go to reach that conclusion.

Communications from 1978 between the State Department and the US embassy in Wellington show the fishing floats went through radiation testing and were examined by scientists at the then Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).

According to a message the embassy sent to the State Department in November 1978, an Ashburton milkman reported an object flying through the sky on October 23.

“John Lovett claims to have been in the paddock on October 22 and is certain the fragment, which was prominently located, was not in the paddock at that time.”

One thing is for sure:  New Zealand’s rural folk like a good prank.

“It appears from some of these no longer secret documents that it took quite some work before the hoax balls proved to be just that.”

He said the perpetrators would have been pleased with their efforts.

“Had they known that as well as convincing John Lovett that he had found a spaceball, they almost fooled the American space agency as well … They would have been very pleased,” he said.

So no space balls then.  But a nice mystery that’s kept some people in the States from getting too bored.


Source:  Stuff


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  • steve and monique

    The first thing that came to mind when i saw the picture,was the old ball floats off a water trough. Dad had a whole bunch of old metal ones on the farm.

  • Russian space programme got balls.