The news that Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 weighing 8.5-tonne will crash into Earth in a matter of few weeks has already created a buzz among people. It’s been claimed that the falling space station could crash into the American state of Michigan on April 3.
Notably, regions of Northern China, Middle Eastern countries, New Zealand, Italy, Tasmania, Spain, the northern states of the US and parts of South America and southern Africa have also been identified as the regions with a high chance of impact.
Launched in 2011, Tiangong-1 is China’s first ever crewed space station. China’s CNSA had confirmed in 2016 that they have lost complete control of Tiangong-1. The Chinese space lab is estimated to re-enter the atmosphere sometime between March 24 and April 19, claims the US-funded research organization, Aerospace Corporation.
The Aerospace website also illustrates a wide belt that shows most of the habitable parts of Earth. Lower Michigan is in one of two narrower zones of higher probability.
“When considering the worst-case location (yellow regions of the map), the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about 1 million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot,” according to Aerospace.
While scientists believe that more than 40 per cent of Tiangong-1 will get burned up as it enters the atmosphere, the remaining chunks weighing up to 220 pounds will reach the earth’s surface intact in the form of space debris.
What could make the space lab’s crash worse is the fact that the space station is reportedly packed full of a toxic and corrosive liquid chemical called hydrazine, which is also used in rocket fuel. Long-term exposure to hydrazine is believed to cause cancer in humans.
It is to be noted that it’s quite impossible for scientists to accurately predict where the space station will crash due to changing conditions in space. Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University, explained that it is only in the final week or so that they will be able to start speaking about it with more confidence.
TheSpaceNews will keep you updated about all the developments in the story.