Metal balls falling from space are "common in the Southern Hemisphere," says government official

CNN is reporting on a strange metal object that fell from the sky into a relatively deserted area in the Republic of Namibia last month:

Paul Ludik, director of the country's National Forensic Science Institute, told The Namibian the sphere, with a circumference of 3.6 feet, is made of a "sophisticated" metal alloy that is known to man, but he said it has no markings that would identify it. No international space agency has claimed ownership, he said.

"A number of tests have been performed on the object, and it appears to be hollow. We are still busy with a detailed examination of the object," The Namibian quotes him as saying.

Ludik told The Namibian that the object poses no cause for alarm, and that such reports of metallic spheres falling from space are common in the Southern Hemisphere.

Actually, as improbable as that seems, he's probably right. Over at Discovery News, Ian O'Neill identifies the object as a "composite overwrapped pressure vessel" (or COPV), a gas storage container used commonly on many kinds of spacecraft. O'Neill points out that COPVs, which all look basically like hollow metal balls, have fallen in a variety of places, including Australia and Brazil. Such incidents are likely to become more common, as more space junk swirls around our planet every day.