China’s very first space station is expected to fall back down to earth within the space of weeks.
China lost control of Tiangong-1 back in 2016, and confessed a controlled re-entry would no longer be an option.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) March 8, 2018
Although it is impossible to predict the exact location of where Tiangong-1 will strike, there is a higher chance of getting struck by debris in some places.
This includes Lower Michigan, according to data put together by research organisation Aerospace.
The 8.5-tonne space station is believed to crash land approximately April 3, 2018, plus one week, re-entering at some point between 43° North and 43° South latitudes according to Aerospace.
Luckily, the chances of getting squashed by this space station as you go about your day is still very slim.
According to Aerospace:
When considering the worst-case location … the probability that a specific person (ie, you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.
In the history of spaceflight no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.
Just checked the orbit data, there are currently 8 objects in lower orbits than Tiangong-1. Well, 7 mabye, the Columbia cubesat was expected to reenter about 6 hours ago
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 7, 2018
According to Aerospace, it may be possible to witness the re-entry for yourself, dependent on your location:
Depending on the time of day and cloud visibility, the reentry may appear as multiple bright streaks moving across the sky in the same direction.
Due to the relatively large size of the object, it is expected that there will be many pieces reentering together, some of which may survive reentry and land on the Earth’s surface.
Two young budding scientists from Sheffield have launched their Blox Spaceman 37,800 metres up into the air to the edge of space.
Despite being just nine and seven years old respectively, siblings Oscar and Layla Adams have already carried out a very impressive space mission – attaching the plucky, plastic voyager to a special, meteorological balloon.
The science-mad schoolkids worked alongside SentintoSpace – an aeronautics company – to carefully calculate the volume of hydrogen required to raise the balloon above a 37 kilometres altitude.
Somewhat disturbingly, there could be a toxic substance on board the Chinese Tiangong-1 space station known as hydrazine. This corrosive substance could potentially survive the point of re-entry.
People are therefore strongly advised against touching any debris they might come across.
I for one will be keeping my brolly firmly up on the way home, just in case...