Credit: The Aerospace Corporation/CORDS

The latest reentry forecast for the plunge of China’s Tiangong-1 space lab has been provided by the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office in Darmstadt, Germany.

The current estimated reentry window runs from the night of March 31 to the late evening of April 1 (in UTC time), noting this is highly variable.

Credit: ESA

Noticeable change

“Today’s new forecast is a noticeable change from that of yesterday, and is due to solar activity,” the ESA office explains. One of the main reasons why it is so difficult to make an accurate reentry prediction, materialized during the last 24 hours, the notices adds.

“A high-speed stream of particles from the Sun, which was expected to reach Earth and influence our planet’s geomagnetic field, did, in fact, not have any effect, and calmer space weather around Earth and its atmosphere is now expected in the coming days.”

The density of the upper atmosphere, through which Tiangong-1 is moving, did not increase as predicted — which would have dragged the spacecraft down sooner — and hence the ESA Space Debris Office has adjusted the predicted decay rate.

Still uncertain

This implies that the new (and still uncertain) reentry window has shifted to later in the day on 1 April.

Credit: The Aerospace Corporation/CORDS

 

Similarly, The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies (CORDS) explains today that Tiangong-1 is currently predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere around April 1st, 2018 15:15 UTC, plus or minus 14 hours.

Leave a Reply