In 2011, China launched its first space station, called Tiangong 1. This station, also nicknamed the Heavenly Palace, doesn’t really deserve its name, as it threatens to come back to our planet. The bad thing is it will crash down from the sky as a huge quantity of debris, and the exact location or date when this happens remains unknown.
No one knows the exact time when Tiangong 1 will crash on Earth
Soon after its launch into space, Tiangong 1 was assumed to return to Earth sometime in the second half of 2017. Since this didn’t happen, scientists reassessed the situation and discovered the crash should occur in March. However, this date is a lot more confusing than you would think.
The Chinese scientists who launched the station couldn’t identify the exact moment when it will fall back into Earth’s atmosphere. More precisely, it might be anytime from the end of February to the beginning of April. If this wasn’t already scary enough, they don’t know where the station will fall either.
They could tell Tiangong 1 will reenter the atmosphere somewhere between 43 degrees latitude North and South. Also, some older measurements indicated that it might crash somewhere on the territories of Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Spain, or Portugal. Most of the gear attached to the station is quite likely to survive the journey to the ground, posing a big crash hazard.
The Chinese scientists lost control of the station
Tiangong 1 is not the first nor the last satellite to return to Earth’s atmosphere. However, they are usually small enough to light up and disintegrate until they reach the land. This time, the station is huge, weighing around 19,000 pounds. It’s extremely unlikely that it can all disappear before touching the ground, so we still have over 2,000 pounds which threated to crash with Earth.
Usually, when such big stations are launched into space, scientists take some safety measures to avoid such disasters. This time, China lost control of the ship, and cannot take any of these measures. However, those scientists who are keeping an eye on it think the chances it should fall in the ocean are high, and people shouldn’t worry of any flying debris threatening to hit them.
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