With just a few days remaining for the Tiangong-1, the Chinese space station which is hurtling down into the Earth’s atmosphere this weekend, astronomers are trying to trace its location and the site where it might eventually fall. The Virtual Telescope Project based in Italy has been working along with Tenagra Observatory in Arizona used a robotically controlled telescope to peep into space and locate the Chinese space station in a live webcast on March 28. The station is lit with the sunlight that reflects from its surface while the background is faintly lit by countless stars and their trails.
Gianluca Masi of Virtual Telescope Project stated that it was difficult to capture the space station which is presenting out-of-control and due to its greater speed of 18-degrees per minute which is around 17,400 mph. To put things into perspective, when you point your fist clenched and held at arm’s length, it is around 10-degrees wide. Researchers were keen to observe the space station which although is difficult considering its speed and other factors, it is something that happens too rarely. Both Tenegra Observatory and Virtual Telescope Project used a Paramount ME robotic mount installed on the respective telescopes. These robotic arms are considered the best piece of hardware available.
The robotic arms make it possible to capture the space station will precision. The image that was captured lately was when the station was orbiting at the altitude of 137 miles or 220 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and which is half the altitude where the International Space Station is a stationed. Reports from several space agencies have estimated that the space station will enter into the Earth’s atmosphere in the coming weekend between March 31 and April 1.
Will it cause harm anyone if it falls on the ground? Well, the chances of happening so are less than 1 in 300 trillion according to the estimates that scientists have put up after deducing it with the fact that the space station will literally burn when entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Even if some pieces of the station space the extreme temperature, it is highly unlikely that it would fall on anyone since the probability is very very low.
Earlier, the space station was estimated to fall between 43° North Latitude and 43° South Latitude which covers a lot of populated countries around the globe and a lot of oceans too.