An out-of-control Chinese space station whose whereabouts were unknown until recently will fall back to Earth in the early hours of Easter Sunday (Apr. 1st), scientists estimate. So far, researchers couldn’t predict where the chunks of the space lab might crash.
According to current estimates, the bus-sized space lab called Tiangong-1 or the “Heavenly Palace” might reentry atmosphere this weekend. The Chinese deployed the space craft in 2011, but they have lost control of it in the meantime.
Tiangong-1 is reportedly China’s first space station, but international experts believe that it is just a precursor. China still hasn’t mastered the know-how behind life support in orbit and docking.
Tiangong-2 is another attempt at a space station where such skills and technologies are being tested. Scientists will keep a close watch of Tiangong-1 while it falls back to Earth as they have a lot to learn from such events.
Space debris this large comes down to Earth a few times every year, but it is barely noticed as it comes apart before hitting the ground. Most of space junk just burns up in the atmosphere.
Chinese Space Station’s Impact Zone Is Still Unknown
Researchers estimate that up to 8,000 pounds of space debris fall back to Earth every year. Tiangong-1’s impact zone remains unknown as its interaction with the atmosphere will continually change the location.
Experts recommend people not to worry about the Chinese space craft hitting them or their loved ones since there is a higher risk of being hit by a car while crossing the street than being smashed by space junk.
Over the last 60 years, only one person in the world – an American woman called Lottie Williams – was hit by a bit of space junk.
Researchers now hope to be able to observe the Chinese space lab breaking up and ablaze. “It would be a beautiful thing to watch,” said Bill Ailor, an expert in space debris at Aerospace Corporation.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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