OCT 17, 2017 05:41 AM PDT

China's Tiangong-1 Space Station to Make 'Uncontrolled' Landing "Within Months"

Earthlings have experienced quite a few close calls from space rocks in the recent past, but now they have something else to worry about.

China lost control of its 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 space station sometime last year, and officials warned that it will hurtle back to Earth and make an uncontrolled descent through our planet’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, no one knows precisely when or where Tiangong-1 will land.

Meet Tiangong-1, the 8-ton Chinese space lab that's hurtling out of control on a crash-course with Earth.

Image Credit: CMSA

China launched Tiangong-1 in 2011 in an attempt to become a space superpower like the United States and Russia. It formerly operated at an altitude of ~230 miles above the Earth’s surface but has recently dipped below 186 miles, highlighting how the hunk of junk is slowly de-orbiting.

Officials familiar with the matter estimate that Tiangong-1 will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere between October 2017 and April 2018, giving everyone just a few months’ notice. Still, there’s so much uncertainty surrounding the situation that people around the globe are worried about their safety – and justifiably so.

Related: China's Tiangong-1 spacecraft is out of control and headed for Earth

But fear not; the Earth is more than two-thirds water, and its land masses are so large and unoccupied that the chance of Tiangong-1 fragments landing in your neighborhood is incredibly slim. More massive objects have de-orbited the Earth before, and mostly burned up in the atmosphere; that said, we expect Tiangong-1 will do the same.

In the chance that smaller fragments of Tiangong-1 survive the fall, they're most likely to land somewhere in the ocean or on an empty piece of land.

Still worried? Well, NASA’s Mark Matney once estimated that the chance of a human getting struck by a piece of space junk is almost 1 in 3,200. More specifically, the likelihood that you, out of everyone else, would get hit by space junk is nearly 1 in several trillion.

Experts won’t know exactly where the space land will land until just the right moment when it dips low enough in altitude that the Earth’s atmosphere clutches it, so it remains a waiting game as of right now.

While the ideal situation would have been a controlled landing, these kinds of risks are always present when we send large objects into space. All we can do is hope that advancements in technology will prevent nations from losing control of space stations in the future.

Source: Popular Science, Live Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
SEP 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 09, 2018
Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Panorama Following Successful Drill Sampling
NASA’s Curiosity rover currently sits at the forefront of the American space agency’s web page this week after capturing a breath-taking 360-de...
SEP 12, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 12, 2018
Why Do Some Galaxies Stop Producing Stars?
If you were to examine outer space with a powerful telescope, you’d see a bevy of distant galaxies containing uncountable amounts of stars. While it&...
SEP 13, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 13, 2018
Faster-Than-Light Jets Seen from Neutron Star Merger
Is there anything in the universe that can travel faster than light? A recent report in the journal Nature declared that the movement of a jet of expl...
SEP 26, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 26, 2018
Do the TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanets Have What it Takes to Support Life?
Among all the extrasolar systems astronomers have discovered to date, the TRAPPIST-1 system is unquestionably one of the most intriguing. Orbiting the host...
OCT 01, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 01, 2018
New Horizons Team Rehearses for Upcoming Ultima Thule Flyby
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made history when it became the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto and capture stunning images of its surface in 2015....
OCT 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 10, 2018
OnSight Lets Scientists Study the Martian Surface with Virtual Reality
NASA’s Curiosity rover has been physically exploring the surface of Mars since 2012, but as it rolls along, it sends surface data back to scientists...
Loading Comments...