(Mirror Daily, United States) – A Chinese space station weighing about 19,000 pounds is expected to crash on Earth in March, but scientists don’t know yet where exactly it will crash. China lost contact with the space lab in 2016.
Beijing had initially estimated that Tiangong-1 would fall back down to our planet at the end of 2017. This wild guess made other space agencies whether the Chinese have lost all control over the out-of-control space station.
In November, the European Space Agency estimated the space lab will crash at some point from January to March 2018. ESA researchers believe the entry will be “uncontrolled,” so they couldn’t predict a crash site.
In 2016, a Harvard physicist told reporters that scientists will be able to tell the exact crash site 6-7 hours before the actual crash because no one knows when the crash will occur.
ESA experts estimate that much of the space lab will burn up before it hits Earth. Yet, large pieces are expected to survive and hit populated areas. Researchers estimate that there is one chance in 10,000 for the junk to land in populated areas and actually do some damage.
Crash Site Remains Unknown
The most likely crash site is estimated to be located between the 43° North latitude and the 43° South latitude, which include all continents that have inhabitants.
ESA warned that the time of the reentry and location can only be estimated with “large uncertainties”. Even a couple of days before the reentry, the landing site and the crash time can be predicted in a very large window.
Tiangong-1, which translates into the Heavenly Palace, was China’s first space station. It was launched in 2011 and now has two manned missions on its record. The space lab was designed to last only two years, but Chinese authorities pushed its expiry date farther. In 2016, all communications were lost, and the spacecraft started degrading.
Image Source: Wikimedia