Chinese space station Tiangong-1 to make re-entry on March 31

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A presentation of Tiangong-1
A presentation of Tiangong-1

New Delhi : Chinese space station ‘Tiangong-1’ is in the limelight for some days. The space agency lost control over Tiangong-1 in 2016 and later, it was decommissioned and deorbited. But now, it is making a comeback. Both European Space Agency (ESA) and Aerospace Corporation believes to re-inaugurate the space lab between March 24 and April 6

Tiangong-1 is the first space station launched by China as add on towards space exploration launched way back in 2011. However, in 2016, the agency lost control over Tiangong-1 and has to decommission it. After losing control over the space lab which has been falling towards the Earth researchers across the globe have been trying to pinpoint the exact location of its re-entry. Also, they are looking for possible date at which it will enter despite the doubt associated with its velocity relative to the Earth, its rotating and mass, and other parameters.

According to the data collected and presented by a paleolithic archaeologist Dr. Marco Langbroek, an avid satellite tracker, the space lab might make its re-entry in the Earth’s atmosphere on March 31. However, knowing the assumed date of en-entry is just one factor. Scientists are still uncertain about the location where it will crash or plunge.

According to Popular Mechanics, pinpointing the location of its re-entry is not possible. It’s because the space station revolves around the Earth several times per day which means, even a minute difference can take the station to a completely different way. According to the estimates, the station might plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere within 45-degree North latitude and 43-degree South latitude which is coincidentally the region with most human population that includes countries not limited to India, Australia, Brazil, United States, Egypt, China, Mexico, etc but the major portion of this region is covered with oceans.

Though the space station is forced into a populated area, it won’t cause much harm since it will emit upon entry. Even if some pieces of the spacecraft escape from the atmosphere, the chances of getting hit by any piece are equivalent to 1 in 10 million chances of getting hit by a lightning bolt in a year which is extremely low. Although scientists are still concerned about the toxic substance that might contain such as Hydrazine for which, even a trace amount if escapes the Earth’s atmosphere can cause a big threat.

Dr. Marco Langbroek has been monitoring the fall of the space station for past few weeks. He said about the current altitude of the space station which is at 215 km off Earth as on March 20. It is estimated that the station is oscillating at around 5.5 days peak-to-peak and falling towards Earth at a velocity of 2 to 3 km per day which will increase quickly in the coming days due to Earth’s gravitational pull. He also pointed out that the space station will start to burn up at 100 km from Earth’s surface and eventually initiate breaking apart at 70 to 80 km of altitude. Once again, the space station might plunge on March 31, give or take 3 days.

Expert says that when the giant Chinese space station will enter into the Earth’s atmosphere, it will form into a spectacular fireball which will be spectacular to watch from the Earth.