China space lab may fall to Earth later: European Space Agency

01 April, 2018, 02:47 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • This computer graphic provides a view of the object population in the geosynchronous region

The scientists have been predicting its crash since the China Manned Space engineering office declared "mission over" in 2016.

Given that the Earth is around 71 percent water, and given that the majority of the space station is unlikely to survive re-entry into the planet's atmosphere - it's highly unlikely that anything on land will be affected by the falling debris. Head over to Satview.org, which tracks the positioning of Tiangong 1 in real time.

The Chinese lost contact with the space station a while ago - that's why scientists are having a hard time figuring out where it will land. When the sun is more active and spurts more charged particles toward Earth, satellites fall faster.

But on March 16, 2016, China told the United Nations that Tiangong-1 had "ceased functioning", but did not give a reason why.

Astronomers believe there is a one in one-trillion chance of any human being struck by space debris.

Scaringi said most of the 8500-kilogram space station could be expected to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Its name means "heavenly palace" in Chinese, but the space station has more in common with Icarus than any castle in the clouds, and is set for a fiery demise.

So why did the impact window narrow?

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China's defunct space laboratory could hurtle back to Earth later than previously forecast, with the European Space Agency saying it may re-enter the atmosphere as late as Monday morning GMT.

"So it's basically just orbiting with no control capability for the last 2 years", said Tom Durkin, the deputy director of the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium. That's part of why Tiangong-1 has taken longer to fall than early calculations suggested.

Connecticut, you may want to keep an eye on the sky.

In its update on Saturday the agency said calmer space weather was now expected as a high-speed stream of solar particles did not cause an increase in the density of the upper atmosphere, as previously expected.

That band of re-entry points - between 42.7 degrees of latitude north and 42.7 degrees south - also includes China, Africa, southern Europe, Australia and South America.

Still, the chances of anyone being hit by a hunk of Tiangong are about 1 in 1,000,000,000,000, according to The Aerospace Corp., a California-based research group that monitors all goings-on above Earth via its Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies. "We don't know where it will be on Earth over, at that time, when it actually enters the atmosphere".

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