Abril 22, 2018

MI preps for unlikely event of crashing space junk this weekend

30 Marcha 2018, 03:54 | Benedicto Grullon

Representational Image of a spaceship burning

China’s Space Station Tiangong-1 to Crash on Earth Around Easter What Will Happen When it Strikes and Are we Safe

A Chinese space station roughly the size of a school bus will crash into Earth's atmosphere any day now.

China's Long March 2F rocket carrying the Tiangong-1 module, or "Heavenly Palace", blasts off from the Jiuquan launch centre in Gansu province on September 29, 2011.

US -funded Aerospace reports between 10 and 40 percent of a spacecraft re-entering the Earth's atmosphere is expected to make it through.

ESA said the 10.4-meter-long (34.1-foot) space station is relied upon to re-enter Earth's environment somewhere close to the 43rd north and south parallels, generally between the scopes of London in Britain and Wellington in New Zealand.

This map by the European Space Agency shows the area in which China's Tiangong-1 space station could fall (shown in green) around April 1, 2018.

Space weather and the orientation of the spacecraft create uncertainty about the timing of Tiangong-1's re-entry.

In 2016, China confirmed that it had lost the ability to control the behaviour of the satellite and therefore, can not confirm where will it crash.

As Tiangong-1 plunges into Earth's atmosphere, it will ignite and break into large chunks before crumbling further.

While much of the spacecraft would likely burn up in the atmosphere, ESA experts say portions could survive and reach Earth's surface.

But space agencies don't know exactly when or where that will happen. China's space agency says the window could extend to next Wednesday.

"In the history of spaceflight, no casualties due to falling space debris have ever been confirmed", ESA said in a blog post on its website. It is reported to have a mass similar to that of other satellites that make uncontrolled reentries a couple of times a month without anyone noticing it.

Markus Dolensky, the technical director at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research in Australia, said if skies were clear witnesses may potentially see a "series of fireballs streaking across the sky".

Trackers have been following the space station's descent over the course of a number of weeks, gathering radar images and coming up with estimates for when it'll come down.

"When considering the worst-case location the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot", states the report.

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