Plummeting Chinese space station could shower toxic debris onto earth.
A Chinese space station which has been spiraling out of control since 2016 is set to fall to earth in the next few weeks.
Tiangong-1 is estimated to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere in the first week of April, and it could cause havoc when it does.
Because of a breakdown in communication with the craft, it is not known exactly where it will land. This could mean that the 8.5 tonne ship will break up in the earth’s atmosphere over heavily populated areas.
The Aerospace Corporation have admitted there is “a chance that a small amount of debris” could strike the earth.
“If this should happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometres in size,”
But the company also highlighted just how unlikely the chances are that a person would be struck by a falling piece of debris.
“When considering the worst-case location, the probability that a specific person will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot,”
They also reminded anyone worried about the situation that:
“In the history of spaceflight, no known person has ever been harmed by re-entering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.”
But further fears have been ignited over that fact that it would not simply be pieces of metal space junk falling to earth. The space craft was also carrying a highly toxic substance known as hydrazine.
This chemical, while necessary to the space flight, is highly corrosive.
Aerospace warned anyone who may come into contact with the space debris to stay away from it.
“For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapours it may emit,”
Due to the scale of the earth there is a high chance that the debris will fall into the sea or an uninhabited area.
Tiangong-1 was part of China’s space program, launched in 2011. The emergence of China as one of the global super powers in the last few decades has seen them rival countries such as Russia and the U.S. This craft was nicknamed the “Heavenly Palace” and carried out a significant number of missions, even some containing astronauts.
Via The Independent