A massive metal object could be hurtling towards our planet Earth these days, possibly entering the atmosphere next week. The object, in question, is a part of a Chinese rocket booster, which is headed towards Earth. The debris measures 53.6 metres in length and has a weight of 23 metric tonnes. The rocket, of which the object was a part, is a 23-ton Long March 5B rocket that took off from Hainan Island on July 24. It carried the Wentian laboratory module to space, which was successfully docked with China’s Tiangong Space Station, according to The Aerospace Corporation.
However, now that the rocket has done its job, it is heading back to us in an uncontrollable descent. While such debris gets burned up completely in Earth‘s atmosphere posing no risk to life here, some parts of the humongous object are expected to survive the fall and make an impact on our planet.
The remnants of the rocket are less likely to cause any damage in case they hit Earth. What is concerning is the fact that the site of the object’s landing is yet to be ascertained. Researchers around the globe are on their toes and are working to track the debris. According to the Aerospace Corporation, which is tracking the booster’s reentry, the rocket body may enter the Earth’s atmosphere on July 31.
“Due to the uncontrolled nature of its descent, there is a non-zero probability of the surviving debris landing in a populated area — over 88 percent of the world’s population lives under the reentry’s potential debris footprint,” a press release by the Aerospace Corporation read.
The company has cautioned that there are chances of the object not completely burning up in the atmosphere, considering the size. “A reentry of this size will not burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the general rule of thumb is that 20 – 40 percent of the mass of a large object will reach the ground, though it depends on the design of the object,” the statement further read.