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Title: China's space lab to crash soon
Source: http://www.news.com.au/
URL Source: http://www.news.com.au/technology/s ... 0451f6249eb3bbb4806cdf1a7985ee
Published: Mar 20, 2018
Author: paraclete
Post Date: 2018-03-20 01:01:59 by paraclete
Keywords: None
Views: 50
Comments: 4

China’s Tiangong-1 space lab expected to crash back to Earth early in April AN out-of-control space station is due to crash down to Earth in about a fortnight, and Australia’s in its firing line — several times each day.

IT was a bold leap forward for China’s space program. Almost.

The 8.6 tonne Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace 1) facility has been tumbling out of control now for more than a year.

In September 2016 China’s space agency announced it had lost contact with the station.

It’s been buffeted by solar winds and wayward wisps of the Earth’s atmosphere ever since.

It’s now due to crash back down to Earth between March 30 and April 6. But the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office is regularly recalculating its increasingly erratic path.

Predicting exactly when, and where, it will come down remains an elusive target.

The areas believed Tiangong-1 is believed most likely to crash are represented by the yellow bands. The green band means there is some risk, while the blue areas are believed to be outside the space station's reach. Picture:

As of March 15, the ESA is only willing to say that it will crash somewhere in a band that covers two-thirds of the globe.

It does highlight two areas of highest risk, however. One is a band that reaches across New York, Madrid and Beijing in the north. Another is a band that includesHobart, Melbourne, Wellington and Buenos Aires in the south. But the ESA insists they won’t know where it will come down until it happens.

The Tiangong-1 Chinese space station is likely to smash back down into Earth sometime between March 24th and April 19th.Source:

FALL OF HEAVEN

Predicting where Tiangong-1 will come down is almost impossible. Which may seem odd given how spacecraft can be sent to the exact right place at the exact right time over millions of kilometres and tens of years for encounters such as with Pluto.

The confounding factor is Earth’s weather. Our planet’s atmosphere ebbs and flows. Exactly how this affects densities at its extreme fringe at the boundary of space is not fully understood. But it does expose satellites to pulses of extra drag each time a puff goes higher than usual.

Which is why Aerospace Corporation, which tracks orbital objects, currently puts Tiangong-1’s demise at April 4 — plus or minus one week . “A more detailed predicted re-entry region will be provided a few days prior to the re-entry time frame,” it says. Another element is the orientation of the space station at the time it strikes each of these whisps. If presenting its broad face, it will be slowed more. Similar factors affect Tiangong-1’s re-entry profile. One face may cause it to skip through the atmosphere. Another may cause it to plummet. You can observe its track online here.

A video image showing the docking of the Shenzhou 8 craft with the orbiting Tiangong 1 module in November 2011.Source:AP

ECHOES OF SKYLAB Only one person is known to have ever been hit by a falling piece of space junk. That’s despite some 5900 tons of the stuff having rained down during the past 50 years.

Lottie Williams was taking a stroll in a park in Oklahoma when a fragment of mesh from a Delta rocket struck her shoulder. She was only slightly bruised. But the prospect of falling spacecraft inspires much drama. The fall of NASA’s 77 tonne Skylab in 1979 brought out crowds hoping to see its fiery end, and pick up any pieces that survived the fall to Earth. Some fragments ended up in personal collections, or were returned to NASA for study. And Russia’s much bigger 120 tonne Mir space lab drew equal attention to its demise in 2001 Nobody was hurt. Put simply, the odds of being hit by space junk is in the billions to one — against.

Exactly how long the 8.6 tonne Tiangong-1 has been unpowered is unknown. But orbital data gathered by Aerospace Corporation and amateur astronomers place the last observed controlled change in its orbit as early 2015. It’s orbit has been degrading ever since. In the past 12 months, its orbit has slipped from 350km down to less than 230km. So will we be able to see it? “It may be possible to see Tiangong-1 re-entering depending on your location, the time of day, and visibility during re-entry which will not be known until a few days prior to the event,” Aerospace Corporation says. “Visibly incandescent objects from this re-entry will likely last tens of seconds (up to a minute or more) in contrast with the vast majority of natural meteors which last mere seconds. You can calculate the times Tiangong-1 is visible in your area at heavens- http://above.com. Here are the schedules for Perth, Darwin, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart (subject to change as the station’s orbit deteriorates).

In this long exposure photo released by Japan's Wakayama University Institute for Education on Space, the Hayabusa probe re-enter the Earth's atmosphere near Glendambo in South Australia in 2010.Source:News Limited

WHAT TO EXPECT

Tiangong-1 was launched in 2011. It was an experimental station, as China is not permitted to take part in research involving the International Space Station. It was always supposed to be the precursor to a bigger, permanent 20 tonne station expected to be launched in 2022. But only two manned missions — and one unmanned — reached the orbital facility.

Aerospace Corporation says it is likely carrying hydrazine, a highly corrosive rocket fuel. It warns people to stay away from any debris they may encounter for this reason. “For your safety, do not touch any debris you may find on the ground nor inhale vapours it may emit,” it writes. Most of Tiangong-1 is expected to burn up under the extreme heat of re-entry. But heavier, denser components — such as batteries or high-pressure engine components — are likely to survive. It’s expected this will amount to some 100kg of debris out of its original 8.6 tonne structure. Odds are, this will all crash down into the ocean.

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Poster Comment:

There are a number of possible targets but I say if it hits the US or Australia it should be considered an act of war. China has the capability to shoot the thing done so it lands in the ocean

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#1. To: paraclete (#0)

CQ?

Space exploration is an opportunity for all of humanity.

It doesn't need to be a nationalistic pissing contest.

VxH  posted on  2018-03-20   1:33:06 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: VxH (#1)

tell that to the Chinese who are happily doing their own thing

paraclete  posted on  2018-03-20   3:46:01 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: VxH (#1)

Space exploration is an opportunity for all of humanity.

It doesn't need to be a nationalistic pissing contest.

Especially when one is staying behind.

A Pole  posted on  2018-03-20   5:46:41 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: A Pole (#3)

Especially when one is staying behind.

Psst.

Go Baby GO!

VxH  posted on  2018-03-20   14:39:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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