An unmanned, uncontrolled Chinese space station is racing toward Earth and is likely to overthrow the atmosphere this weekend, experts say. California and San Luis Obispo County could be hit with some debris – although chances are slim. Probably
According to the federally funded Aerospace Corporation, the station is expected to return to Earth's atmosphere sometime between March 31 and the early afternoon of April 1.
The station, known as Heavenly Palace or Tiangong -1, was launched on September 30, 2011. China stopped receiving data from the station in 2016, meaning it could become blind.
Do not worry: Although the space station is 34 feet long and weighs about 9 tons, it will most likely burn in the atmosphere if it crashes. It is projected that all surviving bits will be scattered along a path that is predicted to be approximately 1
The European Space Agency has published a map of the area that could potentially be in ruins – and it is large and covers much of the United States, South America, Africa and other areas. California is in this region.
"The personal likelihood of being hit by a piece of Tiangong-1 debris is actually 10 million times less than the annual chance of being struck by lightning," wrote the European Space Agency.
In fact, in decades of space exploration, there is only one documented instance of a person hit by space debris. That happened in 1997, when Lottie Williams of Oklahoma was hit on the shoulder by a crumbling rocket.
There is even the possibility that re-entry of the space station will be a visual show if the weather conditions are right
"Glowing objects during this reentry may be visible and will likely take up to a minute or more, depending on the time of day the visibility and location of the observer, "Aerospace Corporation wrote in a press release.