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2-min read

Out of Control Chinese Space Station 'Tiangong-1' to Crash to Earth Within Weeks

China had lost touch with its first space station back in June 2016. Since then, the Tiangong-1 has been plummetting towards the Earth with a gradually increasing speed.


Updated:March 13, 2018, 1:51 PM IST
Out of Control Chinese Space Station 'Tiangong-1' to Crash to Earth Within Weeks
Tiangong-1 Space Station. (Image: CSME)

Tiangong-1, the Chinese satellite that went out of control back in June 2016, is expected to crash soon to the surface of the Earth. Space agencies across the globe have been trying to figure out the exact time and place of the fall but have only come so close to speculations about the crash. Another concern about the crash arises from the toxins onboard the satellite, largely constituting of Hydrazine - used as a rocket fuel which can do serious damage to human nerves and liver.

However, reports indicate only a 1 in 10,000 chance that the two-room Chinese space station will crash in a populated area. As per its mapped trajectory, Tiangong-1 is expected to touch the surface of the Earth somewhere between 43-degrees north and 43-degrees south latitudes. Most of the area in between is covered by oceans. The debris of the satellite, however, might reach some of the populated areas. The Middle East, northern China, northern Spain, central Italy, New Zealand, Tasmania, South America, southern Africa, and northern states in the US have been identified by analysts as the regions with a high chance of impact. The American state of Michigan, in particular, has also been identified as a high potential spot for the crash in a recent report by Mirror.co.uk.

Also read: 'Super-Earth' That May Host Water Among 15 New Planets Discovered

While experts have predicted that most of the satellite's material will burn up in the Earth's atmosphere before it reaches the ground, a report by Metro suggests that around 10 to 40 percent of the satellite's mass could survive the crash. This remaining debris is expected to weigh around 100 kgs as it reaches the surface.

As for the time of its crash, European Space Agency has speculated any date between March 24 and April 19 when the Tiangong can impact the surface. Meanwhile, Aerospace Corporation estimates that the satellite could crash to Earth in the first week of April.

The Chinese space station weighs around 8,600 kg, measures 35 feet in length and 11 feet in width, with a volume of 15 cubic meters. Aerospace issued a warning about the satellite's content in the case of its crash in a populated area: ‘For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapours it may emit.’

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| Edited by: Sarthak Dogra
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