This map shows the current position and orbit of Tiangong-1 in red, with the remaining ground tracks indicating the uncertainty in the re-entry prediction as of March 30, 2018.
Credit: The Aerospace Corporation
It sure looks like the abandoned Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will put on its re-entry light show on April Fools’ Day.
The European Space Agency (ESA), which has been tracking the prototype habitat through its final days and hours, now predicts it will re-enter the atmosphere sometime between late March 31 and late April 1. The Aerospace Corporation, which has also been tracking the falling station, more or less concurs, writing that the uncontrolled re-entry should happen around 2 p.m. UTC (10 a.m. EST) on April 1, give or take 16 hours.
It remains true that no one knows where the 9.4-ton (8.5 metric tons) station will come down, other than somewhere between 43 degrees latitude north and 43 degrees latitude south (an area that includes most of the inhabited regions of the planet). [In Photos: A Look at China’s Space Station That’s Crashing to Earth]
It also remains true that it is not a danger to you or anyone else, because the Earth is very big and still mostly pretty empty, and the station is very small in the scheme of things. And the odds of getting hit by a piece of the space lab that manages to survive the fiery re-entry into our atmosphere are incredibly low.
Worth noting: China has still not officially confirmed that it’s not in control of the falling station, but China did lose contact with the uncrewed object on March 21, 2016, and likely has not re-established contact since.
In any event, there’s a non-zero chance that you’ll witness something extraordinary if you look up into the sky this weekend.
Originally published on Live Science.