Astronomers from the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy have taken an incredible picture of the infested Chinese space station Tiangong-1 as it makes its final descent to Earth.
At the time of shooting, the spaceship was about 137 years old, miles across the surface and at a speed of about 17,400 miles per hour through a region of the sky occupied by the Jungfrau constellation.
Due to the extremely high speed, imaging of Tiangong-1 was very difficult in astronomers' view
"It was difficult to detect the spacecraft because it was moving very fast in the sky (18 degrees per minute at the time of Imaging and faster), "said Gianluca Masi, who heads the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP). Newsweek .
"Our robotic telescopes use advanced technology to virtually follow virtually any fast-moving object, and this was close to their upper limits, but they did a great job," he said.
The picture is a single, 2-second shot taken from a live feed provided by a robotics telescope at Tenagra Observatories in Arizona, remotely controlled by VTP astronomers. Tiangong1
Masi said pointing and tracking fast-moving objects in orbit, such as Tiangong 1, be few observatories
"We have managed to do something honest, not out of this world: to map the Chinese Tiangong-1 space station over the stars during one of their last passes before it burns in the atmosphere," wrote Masi on the VTP website. This is "a picture that we consider historical."
It is expected that the spaceship will return to the atmosphere sometime around April 1, Masi said, meaning that this could be the final picture.
Experts think Most of the space station will burn in the earth's atmosphere. There is little chance that some debris will reach the surface, but they are extremely unlikely to fall ashore, and even when that happens, the chances of anyone being hit are tiny.
The Space Laboratory, which was launched in 2011, was originally scheduled to be de-docked in 2013, before its lifespan was extended. However, in 2016 China's space agency announced that it had lost control of the station and its orbit began to expire. Despite its relatively short mission, Tiangong-1 has returned a lot of valuable data.