Tiangong-1 Space Station To Fall To Earth Within A Week

Any pieces of Tiangong-1

Scientist say debris from a defunct Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, which was put into orbit in 2011 as part of China's ambitious space programme could crash to Earth as early as Friday.

The latest estimate for re-entry is between 30 March and 2 April.

Aerospace Corporation's Tiangong-1 re-entry dashboard.

Tiangong-1 was orbiting at an average altitude of about 212km on Monday, or about 4km lower than the day before, according to China's manned space programme office.

Tiangong-1's reentry is being closely monitored by The Aerospace Corporation's Center for Orbital and Debris Reentry Studies (CORDS) which focuses on Aerospace's research and technology applications in the areas of space debris, collision avoidance, and re-entry breakup, providing a single point of contact for debris reporting information.

"You've got a greater probability of getting hit by a auto crossing a Sydney road today than you're going to get hit by the Chinese space station". China sent two crewed missions to the outpost while it was still operational, but the space station has hosted no astronauts since 2013.

"The global community doesn't know what the craft is made of, and that makes estimating the danger more challenging, as hardened fuel containers could reach the ground while lightweight panels won't", said Alan Duffy, a research fellow at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputer at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia.

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The Tiangong-One, or the "Heavenly Palace", is a 34-foot-long structure that weighs 9.4 tons.

On March 21, 2016 China said it terminated its "data service" with Tiangong-1, allowing it to eventually fall back to Earth.

The Tiangong-1 project was meant to show the Chinese could, in fact, launch a space station.

It is due to the Maltese scientists' efforts that for the first time a multi-pixel system has been installed on the Bologna radio telescope to watch the debris fall towards the earth.

It is now orbiting at an average height of about 216.2 kilometres, but experts are still unclear about the exact location of re-entry. "They stopped getting telemetry from it", Klesman said.

There are more than 500,000 pieces of debris in orbit above us.

The space station is expected to break up on re-entry and scatter fragments over an area as large as 2,000 by 70 kilometres. That was a controlled landing, with most parts burning up upon return and the rest landing in the ocean.

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