The Chinese space agency has lost control of the Tiangong-1 space station. It will not be able to supervise the return of the device to Earth. We reassure you right away: most of the module should disintegrate by penetrating the atmosphere. And the risk of being hit by debris is extremely low.
Will the “Heavenly Palace” fall on our heads? The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 (also called “Heavenly Palace”) is expected to crash on Earth in a few weeks. So far nothing extraordinary, but there is a catch: in 2016, the Chinese space agency lost control. As a result, the engineers will not be able to guide the 8.5 ton module to an uninhabited area as planned.
A small amount of debris could fall on Earth
Most of the device should disintegrate when it enters the atmosphere. But it is possible that a small amount of debris remains and falls on Earth. The Aerospace Corporation is also concerned that the station could carry hydrazine, a corrosive and highly toxic fuel.
The list of areas where the module is most likely to return to the atmosphere is known: northern China, Middle East, central Italy, northern Spain and the northern United States, New Zealand, Tasmania, parts of South America as well as Southern Africa.
Less risk of being hit than winning the Lotto
Aerospace, however, reassures the public. ” Even in the most at-risk area, the likelihood that a specific person (ie you) will be hit by a Tiangong-1 debris is about 1 million times smaller than the chances of winning the PowerBall jackpot ( note: the American Loto) “.
We must keep an eye on
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University was interviewed by The Guardian is a bit more reserved than Aerospace: ” Tiangong 1 is big and dense and you have to keep an eye on it “. The suspense will not last long: the ESA estimates that the module should crash between March 24 and April 19 next.