Thursday, 19 July, 2018

China's Space lab will be crashing to Earth in a Week

How Much Space Junk Hits Earth Twinkle twinkle little…piece of orbital debris? Credit NASA
Derrick Tucker | 30 March, 2018, 08:00

Factfile on the Chinese space station Tiangong-1, due to plunge into the Earth's atmosphere sometime between March 30 and April 2.

When the Tiangong-1 which is the China's Space lab will be crashing to the earth in a superheated trail of plasma and space debris may be an April fool's Joke.

Tiangong-1 stopped responding to China's commands 2016, according to Space.com.

But before detailing just who'll have to duck when the time comes, as well as how to find it in the night sky while you still can, let's catch up on China's space station program and Tiangong-1 in particular.

On March 26, the ESA released this map marking in green where the space station couldconceivably crash. For a brief time, Tiangong-1 supported two successful missions that included China's first female astronauts.

In the meantime, the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee - made up of specialists from 13 space agencies including NASA, the European Space Agency and the China National Space Administration - are trying to narrow down the elusive timing and re-entry point, calibrating the estimates according to the Earth's rotation and other factors.

The craft is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on Saturday or Sunday, but no one knows for sure where it will come down, Holger Krag, head of European Space Agency's Space Debris Office, told Reuters TV.

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"If this should happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometres in size", said Aerospace, a research organisation that advises government and private enterprise on space flight.

A statement from the non-profit Aerospace Corporation explains: "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".

The space station that is now on it way back to earth is a stepping stone in China's long-range space station plan.

Ren Guoqiang, China's defense ministry spokesman, told reporters Thursday that Beijing has been briefing the United Nations and the global community about Tiangong 1's re-entry through multiple channels. It crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2001.

Tiangong-1 was still over 200 km above Earth's surface on March 26, 2018, but its orbit is predicted to decay very quickly in the days ahead. The last crew stayed aboard for almost three months. It plans to send a manned mission to the moon in the future.

The last human space outpost to fall to Earth was the 135-ton Russian space station Mir in 2001. The country is far outside the impact zone. China's 19,000-pound Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, will be burning up in the atmosphere in an "uncontrolled reentry", which basically means that scientists can't stop it, over the weekend, although scientists caution that predicting uncontrolled re-entries is notoriously hard.

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