March 26, 2018

UA Scientists Tracking Chinese Space Station Falling to Earth

Experts predict Tiangong-1 will have a fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere later this week.

Some University of Arizona astronomers and students are getting a rare chance to see a spacecraft crash to Earth.

They're tracking China's abandoned Tiangong-1 space station as it begins an uncontrolled descent from Earth orbit. The spacecraft is the size of a city bus and it's expected to burn through the atmosphere sometime in the next seven days.

UA planetary sciences professor Vishnu Reddy is tracking the object. If you can predict Tiangong's orbital path as it crosses the night sky, he suggests it's hard to miss.

"You can see it as a bright dot moving if it's visible from your location," he said. "So, it's not that difficult to see, even without any optical aid."

Researchers around the world are trying to predict when and where the spacecraft will come down. Reddy and his students are comparing their daily tracking data to a similar effort being run by the Air Force.

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