mardi 24 octobre 2017

Uncontrolled crash on Earth of a Chinese space station

CASC - Tiangong-1 Mission patch.

October 24, 2017

The Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will fall on us between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. Problem: we do not know where!

The sky is likely to fall on our heads. Indeed, an old Chinese space station, Tiangong-1 ("heavenly palace" in Chinese) should crash on Earth between late 2017 and early 2018. Problem: scientists have no idea which part of the globe it will touch, reveal several international media. Because China has lost control of the space station that still weighs more than eight tons!

 Tiangong-1 in perdition

According to specialists, not enough (too much) panic. Because a large part of the debris will burn and go up in smoke when entering the atmosphere. But big chunks could still reach our planet. The English Guardian newspaper interviewed a Harvard astrophysicist who estimated that 100 kg debris could fall on our planet. And we will only know 4 to 5 days before impact the region of the Earth that will be affected, he explains.

On the side of Beijing, however, the Chinese space agency calm the game: according to her, there is little chance that the debris of the station do a lot of damage because they are likely to end up in an ocean. Indeed, 70% of the Earth's surface is composed of water. In addition only 2% of the land is populated. So, according to NASA, the probability of space debris hitting a human is 1 to 3200.

Waiting for the disintegration of the ISS

According to Futura Sciences, Tiangong-1 is currently in orbit 358 km from Earth and loses several meters of altitude each day. The station was launched in 2011 and has not been operational since 2013. But for two years, three Shenzhou missions, two inhabited, came to moor, explains the website.

 Shenzhou spacecraft

It should be noted, however, that the uncontrolled end of life of the space station has certain advantages. Indeed, it could be an unexpected opportunity to prepare for the disintegration of the International Space Station. Because the decision to desorb the ISS should be taken in the 2020s, according to Futura Sciences, and the programming of his death will not be easy. Because with its 400 tons and its size equivalent to a football field, his future death already gives cold sweats to specialists.

Fragmentation of the ESA's ATV Jules Verne during his atmospheric reentry

As a result, the fragmentation of Tiangong-1, though 50 times smaller, should inform the European Space Agency on how the modules of the ISS will break up.

In the meantime, if you feel the need to reassure yourself by watching "heavenly palace" closely, its trajectory is to follow live on the site

Related links:

The Guardian:

Futura Sciences:

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC):

Image, Animation, Text, Credits: ATS/ESA/ Aerospace/Roland Berga.