Space debris or old satellites falling back down on Earth is something we all are aware of as hundreds of junk land on our planet each year. But, what will happen if a 19,000-pound heavy space station will fall on Earth?
Well, scientists are worried too as an out of control Chinese space station has gone off the route and can crash anywhere into Earth. Scientists are unable to figure out where on Earth it is going to crash, reports CBS Denver.
Tiangong-1, an unmanned space lab, is expected to crash on Earth in March. China lost control of the space station around two years ago in June 2016.
The Chinese government had earlier estimated that the Tiangong-1 would come down back to Earth in late 2017. Experts have now come to this conclusion that the Chinese space agency has lost all the ability to direct Tiangong-1’s course or even know its crash landing site.
European Space Agency (ESA)’s November analysis suggests that the orbit of the spacecraft "will inevitably decay sometime between January and March 2018, when it will make an uncontrolled reentry."
"Even a couple of days before it re-enters we probably won't know better than six or seven hours, plus or minus, when it's going to come down," Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell told The Guardian in 2016. "Not knowing when it's going to come down translates as not knowing where its going to come down."
According to ESA experts, much of the spacecraft would likely burn up in the atmosphere, however, portions of it could reach the surface of the Earth.
Reports say that there is only a 1-in-10,000 chance that the Tiangong-1 will actually crash in a populated area and cause damage to buildings and establishments.
"The date, time and geographic footprint of the reentry can only be predicted with large uncertainties. Even shortly before reentry, only a very large time and geographical window can be estimated," said Holger Krag, head of ESA's Space Debris Office.