Science

Watch skies for falling debris from Chinese Space Station; maybe visible from Lane County

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The space station will make an uncontrolled reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere on April 1, 2018, plus or minus 4 days, according to The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California. (Source: The Aerospace Corporation)

LANE COUNTY, Ore. – A Chinese space station is set to collide with Earth as early as next week. There is a chance you could get a glimpse of the falling debris from Lane County.

Tiangong -1 will reenter the earth three days before or after April 1. According to the Aerospace Cooperation, the space station’s potential impact zone is between 42.7 degrees north latitude and 42.7 degrees south. That is roughly two-thirds of the planet’s surface.

In Oregon, the impact zone includes Grants Pass south, according to Scott Fisher, Director of Pine Mountain Observatory.

“The best we’re going to see is like a bright shooting star,” Fisher said. “You’re going to see something moving across the sky and maybe it will have a tail behind it.”

Fisher said most of the space station will burn up upon reentry and the odds of getting hit by debris are less than one in one trillion

“If you were lucky enough to win the Powerball a thousand times, that’s how unlucky you would have to be to actually get hit by a piece of this thing,” Fisher said.

Jerry Oltion, Secretary of the Eugene Astronomical Society, has been tracking Tiangong-1’s orbit for several years.

“The anticipation is growing,” Oltion said. “We’ll know at least a day ahead of time — certainly hours ahead of time — where it’ll come down.

In order to see it, Oltion will need clear conditions. From Eugene, he will have to look south towards Grants Pass.

“I’ll definitely be out there looking for it. It’s going to be spectacular wherever it comes down,” Oltion said.

Learn more here: http://www.aerospace.org/cords/reentry-predictions/tiangong-1-reentry/

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