A defunct Chinese space station is expected to plunge to Earth from its orbital perch in early April.
Unless China reveals more about what exactly is involved with the construction and descent of the Chinese space station, there's now no telling what exactly will happen when it makes contact with Earth. The European Space Agency says the module will come down between March 24 and April 19, the Guardian report said. "Should this happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometers in size and centered along a point on the Earth that the station passes over".
In a May 2017 update provided to the United Nations, China said Tiangong-1 "ceased functioning" on March 16, 2016 but provided no additional details about the status of the orbiting outpost.
NASA's 77-ton Skylab space station came hurtling to Earth in an nearly completely uncontrolled descent in 1979, with some large pieces landing outside Perth in Western Australia. The space station will fall somewhere between 43 degrees North and South, but because of the angle of the Tiangong-1, it's more likely to fall near the maximum or minimum than on the equator.
The statement from Aerospace said there was "a chance that a small amount of debris" from the module will survive re-entry and hit the Earth.
The chances of re-entry are slightly higher in northern states in the U.S., central Italy, northern Spain, northern China, New Zealand, the Middle East and parts of South Africa and southern Africa.
For now, ground stations are able to track Tiangong-1 as it speeds along at 16,000 miles an hour some 180 miles above Earth.
The chances of actually being hit by debris are pretty small, according to Aerospace.
There's a space station in a decaying orbit.
Tiangong 1 was launched in September 2011 by China.
McDowell said Tiangong-1's descent had been speeding up in recent months and it was now falling by about 6km a week, compared with 1.5km in October. We know that the space station is coming down, we just don't know when or where.
With more than 2000 satellites in space and more alarmingly more than 500,000 pieces of debris, or "space junk", floating about above our heads, even these slim odds appear something of a concern to us down here below. There are vast areas of North and South America, China, the Middle East, Australia, and parts of Europe where the Chinese space station could scatter debris - but there's also the possibility that it will make a crash landing into the ocean.