In only a few weeks, a non-operational Chinese space station is expected to fall to Earth. Known as the Tiangong-1 station, this satellite is not expected to make it to the surface of the planet. Instead, scientists are predicting that it will burn up as it makes its way through the atmosphere.
It’s possible that some parts of the satellite could make it through, but researchers say that the risk of humans is small. In fact, your chances of getting hit by space debris is only one is a trillion.
Though the debris is not expected to plunge to Earth in a fiery fashion, scientists still want to be prepared in case it does. So, they are trying to predict where the parts of Tiangong-1 might fall. Right now, they expect that it would come in between 43 degrees North and 43 degrees South, but that is a huge area and there are a lot of factors at play.
First, Tiangong-1 is moving fast, at about 16,000 miles per hour. Gravity is also taking a toll on the satellite and getting worse as the station continues to decay. However, as we get closer to the satellite entering into Earth’s atmosphere, researchers can get a better idea of where it might land. However, that might only be a day or two before it enters.
It’s also important to remember that as the satellite breaks up, the pieces can fall in different places. They can spread out and cover hundreds of miles.
China is being ‘hush hush’ on this satellite, and US and other researchers aren’t sure if the country still has control over the space station. One Chinese expert denied that the station was falling out of control, but other sources and research imply otherwise.
It is not uncommon for space debris to fall to Earth, but only one person is ever known to be hit by it.