Salt Lake City in potential path of space debris from Chinese rocket
SALT LAKE CITY — A Chinese rocket will fall back into the Earth’s atmosphere this weekend, and space agencies around the globe are keeping an eye on it.
According to the BBC, the return of this rocket may be in a populated area as it does not have the technology for a controlled re-entry.
The exact path for this re-entry is unknown, but there is a prediction of possible paths found here.
Our latest prediction for #CZ5B rocket body reentry is:
🚀30 Jul 2022 18:05 UTC ± 5 hours
Reentry will be along one of the ground tracks shown here. It is still too early to determine a meaningful debris footprint. Follow this page for updates: https://t.co/SxrMtcrMrs pic.twitter.com/hOsvq5wmWl
— The Aerospace Corporation (@AerospaceCorp) July 29, 2022
The image shows the possible landing could be over North America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia.
“Chances are, most of it will just burn up in the atmosphere, but because it’s so big, there are probably chunks that will survive, but the question is where,” said Patrick Wiggins, NASA/Solar system ambassador to Utah.
The yellow satellite icon indicates the center of the predicted re-entry window, while the blue track is the first half of that window and the yellow track is the second half.
The possible path includes one over Utah, running through the Salt Lake area.
“If it comes down over an uninhabited area, nobody’s going to see it. I kind of want to see it, but I don’t want it to do any damage,” Wiggins said.
However, it’s difficult to know where exactly debris could return to Earth. Updates can be found here.
Wiggins said current projections show the junk will be over Utah Saturday morning at 5:17, 6:48, 8:19, or 9:51, or Sunday morning at 7:09.
“I’m not worried,” Wiggins said. “I hope that I’m not on the news tomorrow saying I should have been ha.”
The rocket returning to Earth was sent to Tiangong, China’s unfinished space station.
Previously, NASA called for China to “minimize risks to people and property on Earth” and design their rockets to disintegrate into smaller pieces upon re-entry.
The Chinese government said the rocket’s re-entry would pose little risk to anyone on the ground because it would likely land in the sea.
However, in May 2020, properties in the Ivory Coast were damaged by space debris of a Chinese rocket. According to experts, there is still a possibility of debris falling in a populated area.
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