That Chinese Space Station Hurtling Toward Earth Could Hit One Of These U.S. Cities

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Well, here's some terrifying news: There's a Chinese space station out in the galaxy that is hurtling towards Earth, and it is expected to hit the planet on or around Apr. 1, 2018. There's no stopping it, and scientists have stated that they really don't have much control over it either. On top of that, it could either cause a lot of damage or it could do almost nothing. In other words, it's a very unclear situation! The question on everyone's mind is an important one: where is the Chinese space station going to crash? Do you need to be worried about being destroyed by a flying space station on Easter Sunday?

Here's the deal: in 2016, China lost control of their first space station, called Tiangong-1, which is about the size of a school bus (so, yes, it's very large). According to Vox, China had once been planning on trying to give the space station a controlled descent to Earth so that we didn't all have to worry about having large pieces of it fall on or around our homes. That's when things got more out of control: the space station malfunctioned, for reasons we still don't really know. Due to "orbital decay" (which is defined as "the process of prolonged reduction in the altitude of a satellite's orbit." So, essentially, it's when objects enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up), the space station has been heading towards Earth since it went off on its own.

The time has now come for that space station to hit Earth. It is said to be about 124 miles above the Earth, and is expected to crash through the atmosphere on or around Apr. 1, according to the European Space Agency. The good news is that a lot of it will burn up in the atmosphere. The bad news is that there will still be some heavy pieces that get through and hit the ground. Also bad news: we can't control any of it. Oh, and no one knows where it will land.

So, to quickly answer the question of where the Chinese space station will land: scientists don't know! That's not exactly comforting, so if you feel your anxiety sky-rocketing, knowing more details might help.

On March 26, the ESA released an image of a map that shows where the Tiangong-1 might land. It's... well, it's not very helpful.

As you can see, the map shows that the space station could land in most parts of the United States, China, India, Africa, South America, and Australia. With the exception of a few places, it could land literally anywhere. The higher probability of where it could land are the northern and southern parts of the shaded area — so, as you can see, places like New York, NY and Rome, Italy seem to be at risk. The ESA says that the space station hasn't been near the equator as much as these areas.

Unfortunately, we'll only get a better idea of where Tiangong-1 will land about a day before it enters the Earth. Even then, scientists will only be roughly predicting where it might go - and there could be many different pieces. Scientists also can't for sure that this will happen on Apr. 1. It's really kind of a guessing game at this moment.

This all sounds terrifying, especially when you read headlines about a potential "fiery crash." But here's the thing: it's very, very rare to be hit by space debris. As Vox has pointed out, "the likelihood of being hit by a falling piece of space debris is infinitesimally small — just one in a trillion, according to the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation." That is certainly more comforting to hear. Also, just because debris falls doesn't mean it will be catastrophic. It could be small pieces that fall and are spread out over a giant area.

As of right now, this is a very uncertain situation. Experts have ideas about what will happen, but they don't know for sure - they can't even say when it will definitely land or where it will go. Regardless, I know I'll be staying updated on it until it crashes through the atmosphere.