Chinese space station will fall to Earth on Easter, space agency predicts

This computer graphic provides a view of the object population in the geosynchronous region

The China Manned Space Engineering Office places the date of reentry a little later, between April 1 and April 2.

Although most of the craft will burn up when it ploughs into the atmosphere, between 10 and 40% of its mass could survive and plunge to Earth.

A radar image of the Tiangong-1 space staion.

Experts predict that a Chinese space station now tumbling toward Earth will make its crash landing on Easter Sunday, but they are not sure where. It's important to notice that Tiangong-1 is very, very likely to come down in the ocean or somewhere rural, but there are some cities with a population over 1 million in the predicted flight path; those are indicated by red dots. Even though space observatories and scientists have expressed that there's no danger from the crashing space station, Michigan, which falls in the line of potential crash sites, is preparing for impact.

The odds of being hit by falling debris are extremely slim: one in 1 trillion.

At over 10m in length and weighing more than 8 tonnes, it is larger than most of the man-made objects that routinely re-enter Earth's atmosphere, reports the BBC.

Estimates from Aerospace say the space station will enter the Earth's atmosphere on April 1, give or take a few days, and debris will fall no further north than 42.7° N latitude or south of 42.7° S latitude.

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But exactly when and where Tiangong-1 (Chinese for "heavenly palace") will hit is anybody's guess.

The Satview map shows several different satellites in orbit, including the Hubble telescope and the International Space Station.

The website Heavens Above has a live tracker of where the satellite is above Earth at any given moment, and Space.com reports that it will likely be over the USA around dawn the days of this weekend.

Fortunately, most of it will burn up in the atmosphere.

China's defunct space laboratory could hurtle back to Earth later than previously forecast, with the European Space Agency saying it may re-enter the atmosphere as late as Monday morning GMT.

It is expected to land somewhere between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south latitudes, which includes many populated areas, including the US, China, the Middle East, Africa and Australia, but rules out re-entry over the United Kingdom and much of Europe.

"If by some truly cosmic coincidence you do find a piece of Tiangong-1 in your neighborhood - or if some debris washes up on a shore near you - here's some advice on your best course of action: Don't touch it", said Brandon Specktor, senior writer for LiveScience.com.

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