A Chinese space station which is carrying ‘highly toxic’ chemicals on board, could hit a number of major world cities, including New York.
The station, Tiangong-1, will reportedly come hurtling back to terra firma between March 30 and April 6, with the most likely date being April 4, according to experts.
The cities which are most at risk are those with a latitude of 43 degrees north and south, which include New York, Madrid, Beijing, Chicago, Istanbul and Rome.
The 8.5 tonne craft has been crashing into Earth since the space station lost control in 2016 and is believed to contain a dangerous substance called hydrazine.
Tiangong-1 orbit now 222 x 244 km, down 10 km in past 7 days
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 17, 2018
Dr Hugh Lewis, a senior lecturer in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Southampton, told MailOnline:
The spacecraft is travelling around a more or less circular orbit, which is tipped with respect to the equator at 43 degrees.
If you plot this path on a map of the Earth, it produces a sine wave pattern, with the slower curve of the wave in northern and southern latitudes and the faster straighter sections running from east to west.
No. From just a statistical probability standpoint, the portions in the yellow bands have a higher chance of having Tiangong-1 come in over them. But it's still far too early to talk about specific land areas that might be affected on reentry day. pic.twitter.com/I9lBQckfqK
— Chris G – NSF (@ChrisG_NSF) March 16, 2018
Dr Lewis continued:
We can’t say precisely where as we don’t know which orbit it will come in on. At this point in time it’s very difficult to say.
If you take how far in advance you make your prediction, the rule of thumb for error is around 10 per cent.
At the moment, that’s roughly 10 days, or 160 possible orbits. If we were to predict again with a week to go, this would narrow to less than one day, or 16 possible orbits.
My expectation is, what little of the craft survives the atmosphere, will impact the ocean.
[ooyala player_id=”5df2ff5a35d24237905833bd032cd5d8″ width=”undefined” height=”undefined” pcode=”twa2oyOnjiGwU8-cvdRQbrVTiR2l” code=”4yZGttZDE63zGeYMbHlsZzANa3XUZlIC”]
The most likely point of impact came from Aerospace – a US research organisation from California, which acts as an advisor in space flight related matters.
They reckon the space station will enter the atmosphere on April 4, roughly, and will fall no further north or south than 42.7 degrees.
The only parts of the Earth which are completely safe constitute one third of the Earth’s total surface area.
It’s expected most of the satellite will burn up when it re-enters the atmosphere and only as little as 10 per cent is expected to make it to the Earth’s surface, but this could contain the dangerous hydrazine.
The spacecraft is actually speeding up yet falling at a rate of 6km a week, as opposed to 1.5km a week, in October.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, told The Guardian:
Every couple of years something like this happens, but Tiangong-1 is big and dense so we need to keep an eye on it.
It’s only in the final week or so we’re going to be able to start speaking about it with more confidence.
I would guess a few pieces will survive re-entry. But we will only know where they are going to land after the fact.
— Amanda Carano (@AmandaCarano) March 21, 2018
Hydrazine, the chemical onboard the Tiangong-1, is used in rocket fuel and long-term exposure is believed to cause cancer.
In the meantime, all experts can do is watch as the spacecraft hurtles towards Earth, so stay indoors on April 4.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]