In March look up - and be ready to duck

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#1 In March look up - and be ready to duck

Postby Gaybutton » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:27 pm

I don't know. As soon as they tell me the risks are minuscule, that's when I start worrying . . .

China's Tiangong-1 space lab to plunge to Earth by March

By Katie Hunt, CNN

January 5, 2018

Hong Kong (CNN) - China's Tiangong-1 space lab was billed as a potent symbol of the country's rise when it launched in 2011.

Now, the lab is out of control and expected to crash-land on Earth by the end of March -- posing a minuscule risk to humans but inflicting a blot on the nation's bold push to become a space superpower.

"They have a PR embarrassment on their hands," said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "The actual danger is small, but it is accepted international best practice nowadays that objects that big shouldn't be able to fall out of the sky in this manner."

Space experts stress the potential danger to humans is minimal -- the odds of debris from the vessel hitting a human are astronomically tiny, estimated to be less than one in 1 trillion. That compares with a one-in-1.4 million chance of a person in the US being struck by lightning.

In the best-case and most likely scenario, the space lab will largely burn up as it enters Earth's atmosphere over the ocean and a few parts will sink to the sea floor.

"The worst realistic case is that the Tiangong-1 reenters over a highly populated area, and a few largest chunks hit the ground, with perhaps some minor property damage," McDowell said. "But this has never happened in the 60-year history of reentering space debris. The chances are small."

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