Scientists have calculated where the unmanaged collapse of the Chinese space station


Mr Anond explained further that when scientists design a satellite or space station, they will calculate the appropriate amount of hydrazine to be used throughout the journey. The day is most likely April 3, and Southern Africa, South America, Tasmania, the U.S, northern Spain and the Middle East are the pinpointed regions with higher chances to host the landing.

In a May 2017 update provided to the United Nations, China said Tiangong-1 "ceased functioning" on March 16, 2016 but provided no additional details about the status of the orbiting outpost.

The European Space Agency is now predicting the descent as happening somewhere between March 27 and April 8, which, while still a large window, is significantly smaller than what we were able to predict previously.

This narrows down from their previous estimate of March 17 to April 21. The corporation works in two-weeks of error - one before and one after April 3 - in its latest estimation.

"Every couple of years something like this happens, but Tiangong-1 is big and dense so we need to keep an eye on it", Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University told the Guardian.

The chances of actually being hit by debris are pretty small, according to Aerospace. After the last crew departed the module in June 2013 it was put into sleep mode and it was intended that it would remain in orbit for some time, allowing China to collect data on the longevity of key components before being commanded to gradually re-enter the atmosphere.

McDowell said Tiangong-1's descent had been speeding up in recent months and it was now falling by about 6km a week, compared with 1.5km in October.

"Once it starts to break apart, each of the pieces will fall along the track, but they can be spread out by several hundred miles", he added. "During its re-entry, most of its parts will burn up through the atmosphere, leaving only a few to land on Earth".

"At this point, we can't tell where Tiangong-1 will land". The current estimated window is "highly variable", the European Space Agency cautioned.

The flight path of Tiangong-1 shows where it crosses over New Zealand, putting the lower North Island-upper South Island in potential danger of falling debris.

"In the history of spaceflight, no person has ever been harmed by reentering 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 the only ones who know what's onboard Tiangong-1, or even what it's made of, are the Chinese space agency".

For the uninitiated, Tiangong-1 launched in 2011 as China's first space laboratory, a prototype for what the country hoped would eventually be a permanent space station.

The craft is now at an altitude of less than 300 kilometres (186 miles) in an orbit that is decaying, forcing it to make an uncontrolled re-entry.