A giant piece of Chinese rocket is set to hit Earth: How to track it online
Beijing, May 08: Debris from an uncontrolled Chinese rocket is set to make an unpredictable re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere this weekend, and is likely to land in one of the oceans that cover 70 per cent of the planet.
The Long March 5B rocket, which launched China's Tianhe space station module last week, is making an uncontrolled fall back to Earth and that, naturally, triggering panic among the people.
At 21 tonnes, it is among the largest and heaviest pieces of space debris to fall back to earth.
The Exact tracking of the debris fall is difficult due to too many uncertainties in atmospheric drag including the effects of the solar wind (plasma and particles from the sun) on the Earth's atmosphere.
The rocket's re-entry is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere sometime late Saturday or Sunday between 1.30pm UTC (7.30pm IST) on 8 May and 7.30pm UTC on 9 May (1.00 am IST on 10 May).
NOTE: Still not a reliable time or location, given the large window; both will still vary wildly
Our latest prediction for #LongMarch5B CZ-5B rocket body reentry is 🚀 09 May 2021 04:19 UTC ± 8 hours along the ground track shown here. Follow this page for updates: https://t.co/p2AU9zVEpA pic.twitter.com/rsE6yzcnHb— The Aerospace Corporation (@AerospaceCorp) May 7, 2021
The crash is expected to occur between latitudes 41.5 degrees north (running through North America, Southern Europe, and China) and 41.5 degrees south (through S. America, Africa, Australia, and NZ), as its orbital inclination is 41.5 degrees.
Experts are not sure when or where the event will take place. Chances of debris coming in contact with a populated area are very, very, very slim, but they're not being ruled out entirely.
Chinese downplays any damage
However, China has downplayed saying that the rocket is highly unlikely to cause any danger and harm to the aero activities or the Earth.
Chinese media reported saying that the parts of the disintegrated rocket will fall in international waters.
The rocket was used by China to launch part of its space station. While most space debris objects may burn up in the atmosphere, the rocket's size - 22 tonnes - has prompted concern that large parts could re-enter and cause damage if they hit inhabited areas.
Last year, the re-entry of debris from the first Long March 5B flight fell on the Ivory Coast, damaging several homes in villages. It was the largest craft to crash to earth since the US space laboratory, Skylab scattered debris over the southern Australian town of Esperance in 1979.
China is expected to carry out more launches in its space station programme in the coming weeks as it aims to complete the space station project next year.
A giant piece of Chinese rocket is set to hit Earth: Here's how to track it online
The Aerospace Corporation, which supports national security space programs, has been putting up updates on its Twitter feed and occasionally on the status.
U.S. Space Command is also giving updates on it's twitter handle about the time and date of Chinese rocket.