Chinese Space Station Tiangong-1 Due To Hit In 24 Hours
Earlier this month the European Space Agency suggested that an out-of-control Chinese space station carrying a load of toxic chemicals could soon hit Earth. Like, really soon - though originally they were only able to give us a pretty vague window of between 24 March and 19 April.
The ESA then narrowed it down a little, saying that it may happen between 30 March and 6 April, while satellite tracker Dr Marco Langbroek reckoned that it will be within three days of 31 March.
However, now it seems the ESA whizzes have a bit more of a definitive idea about when we can expect the 8.5-ton space station to drop by - as, according to the latest estimations, it's predicted to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere at around 2pm (GMT) on 1 April.
Tiangong-1 was China's first ever space lab, but it has been out of service for a long time now and has since essentially been hurtling around at high speed with very little purpose.
The space station is about the size of the bus and, more unnervingly, is thought contain a fair bit of hydrazine - which is basically rocket fuel.
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A lot of it will burn up in the atmosphere at re-entry, but not all of it. Some of the craft will fall to earth at great speed as space debris.
If that makes you feel a bit uneasy (which is fair enough, really), you needn't panic too much, as the probability of being actually struck by the station is very, very low.
Aerospace, an organisation that researches both private and state-run space travel, told the Guardian: "When considering the worst-case location... the probability that a specific person (i.e., you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.
"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."
What's more, China has also said that it's unlikely that large pieces of the space station will hit Earth.
"If there is a need, we will promptly be in touch with the relevant country," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news briefing.
"As to what I have heard, at present the chances of large fragments falling to the ground are not very great, the probability is extremely small."
Well, this Easter looks set to be an interesting one - and for once it's not because of a family spat while you're all chowing down on some roast lamb.
Featured Image Credit: PA