spaceSpace and Physics

Real-Time Map Lets You Track The Out-Of-Control Chinese Space Station As It Heads Towards Earth

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockMar 23 2018, 15:39 UTC


The out-of-control Tiangong-1 space station is heading back to Earth in the coming weeks, and we're not entirely sure where it's going to land, or even when.

Current predictions put the station's re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere as being over the Easter weekend, between March 30 and April 2.


It's highly unlikely that the station will land on anybody, although there is a small chance it could break up over a populated region, and some estimates suggest that between 10 and 40 percent of it could make it to the ground.

The Aerospace Corporation puts the odds of being hit at 1 million times smaller than winning the Powerball jackpot, even if you live in the "high-risk" cities. An interactive map from Satview lets you track the station, just in case you weren't paranoid enough.

The space station does go over land regularly, but spends the majority of its time above the oceans. SatView

Using the map you can sit there, paranoid, and watch as its orbit gets lower and lower. Though it spends most of its orbit above the ocean, it is a little disconcerting to watch it going over familiar landmasses, including parts of the US and Africa.

You can switch between map and satellite view. Both views add a little crosshair, which somehow makes it seem even more threatening than it already was. SatView

The Aerospace Corporation has attempted to narrow down where the debris could land. Cities in the potentially hazardous region include New York, Chicago, Toronto, Rome, Istanbul, and Beijing.

Other space objects have fallen to Earth in a similarly uncontrolled fashion, but so far there have never been any reports of death.

“Of course, there is a chance it will come down over land, but we’ve never had a reported injury from space debris," Dr William Ailor of the Aerospace Corporation told Time magazine. "Only one person has been 'touched' – Ms Lottie Williams was brushed on the shoulder in 1997 and not injured."


Using the tool, you can also track satellites that are less threatening to Earth. Other maps show the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station.

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