Heavenly Palacapocalypse

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The Chinese space station Tiangong-1, aka, Heavenly Palace, is due to crash into the Earth soon.

The latest calculations put the satellite-earth collision at some time between March 27th and April 8th.

The orbit is confined to between 43 degrees north and south. So, Canada dodges a bullet, as does much of Northern Europe. Here is the currently estimated target area, just so you can be prepared:

The contents of the space station is a Chinese state secret, so outside experts can not estimate the chance of any parts surviving re-entry.

It is hard to estimate re-entry time very far in advance because the exact trajectory of the space ship changes as it interacts with the upper reaches of the atmosphere, and that, in turn, changes constantly. Estimating the time of entry weeks in advance is like integrating a weather forecast the exact location of the cars on a road race not started yet, weeks in advance.

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15 thoughts on “Heavenly Palacapocalypse

  1. Just another example of the relatively new human capacity to inadvertently or with forethought add to the danger of life for billions of people at a time.

  2. Yeah, local news folks have been playing the “high chance” of some portion hitting the southern part of michigan. No mention of the fact that the 40% chance they cite refers to the entire band East to west, nothing to south, around the world, currently given as a likely region. Nor do they mention this:

    Remember that a 1 hour error in our guessed reentry time corresponds to an 27000 km (17000 mile) error in the reentry position,’ McDowell explained in one tweet.
    ‘And currently our estimate has a 2 week uncertainty.’

    1. As I understand it, the “it will land here” stuff our news is tossing around extends from 43° South to 43° North.

      The local news is sending the message that the 40% chance applies to lower Michigan and nowhere else.

      Since the local news folks have
      – talked about stories and used “reduction in risk” as simply meaning risk
      – insisted that if some quantity doubles that is a 200% increase
      – gave time to some local quack selling EMF protection stickers for phones to protect kids from radiation (“They stop all radiation of all types from leaving the phone”)

      I write their comments about the satellite off as the rantings of numerically ignorant fluff.

    2. In that case the map is off. 43S doesn’t cover all of South America, but about to that sharp inlet in Argentina, above the smoother gulf.

  3. Most striking thing about that map is how far north Tasmania ( a bastard cold place i never been too ) is in relation to say, Poland being south , which is ( to mix terminology very badly ) off the chart.
    Must be so bloody cold there.
    The map also brings to mind the statistic that
    10% of the population live south of the equator.
    By and large media does a shitty job with maths and thus perpetuates alot of ignorance
    and unnecessary fears.
    Particularly badly articulated statistics.
    So badly im guessing journalism studies dont have a statistical component.
    Makes one wonder what the fuck students do study to become a reporter.

    1. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

      Obama aide Ben Rhodes describing how they fooled the public on the Iran deal.

    2. Yeah Mike, it’s amazing how observers from other countries and relevant agencies have stated the Iran agreement is working.

      It’s telling how you buy any conspiracy designed to make President Obama look bad simply because he was the wrong race to use the front door of the White House.

      Try critiquing him on facts: the stupidity of continuing and expanding President Bush’s “war on terror”. His not getting rid of the tax cuts Bush put into place. Foolishly keeping Guantanamo open, and so on.

    3. You ‘know’ these things because of Ben Rhodes disinformation campaign, starting with the idea that Rouhani is a moderate breaking from the hardliners.

      Maybe you are right that the Iran deal is working, but it is still not working. As I say to people who claim Iran is cheating, the deal itself is the cheat. The agreement says Iran will not enrich uranium for 10 years(now 8). After that, they are not restricted. However, this 10 year delay is not really 10 years, because they are still using the centrifuges with other chemicals. The enrichment is just one factor. The enrichment process is not stable, but is being improved with time. By using other chemicals, the improvement continues, and can be cashed in after the 10 years.
      For example, suppose prior to the deal Iran was 20 years away from getting enough uranium for one nuclear warhead. During this ten years, Iran might improve the enrichment process to just 4 years. So instead of being 30 years away from a bomb, it is really just 14. Without the deal, Iran would have achieved it in 12 years at the most, so the ten year delay is just two year, and more realistically something like 4 years(with these made up numbers- say 2 years at 20, 3 years at 15, 2 years at 10, 3 years at 6)
      If Iran was already six months away or some smaller number, then the ten year delay is more effective, but my understanding was they were much farther away even with the improvements they had already made to centrifuges.

    4. Edit, the deal is 10 years at one facility, limited to weakest centrifuges, while the one where centrifuge activity continues has a 15 year limit on enrichment. So the plan would be improve the centrifuges, when after ten years build up your stockpile at the other facility to whatever level is allowed for the next five years.

    5. You ‘know’ these things because of Ben Rhodes disinformation campaign, starting with the idea that Rouhani is a moderate breaking from the hardliners.

      No, we know it is working from the reports of independent agencies, not because of your imagined conspiracy.

      The real question of course is: aside from the general spread of availability of nuclear weapons, why is there concern over Iran having them? The other country in that region who has them has just as large a history of using its might to meddle in affairs of countries around it — and, indeed, of conducting operations in regions far outside the Middle East. Nobody reasonable is concerned about their possession of the weapons, despite the times when its leadership has been as unbalanced as the leadership of Iran.

      Basing foreign policy purely in reasons based in bigotry and hatred while ignoring facts is a horrible way to do foreign policy, yet that is what you support. It’s the same idiocy that led President Bush into Iraq despite the overwhelming evidence that they did not pose any threat, had no role in September 11, and did not have any on-going “weapons of mass destruction” program. We all can see what a problem his policy (and President Obama’s continuation of that policy) made of the region.

  4. “The contents of the space station is a Chinese state secret, so outside experts can not estimate the chance of any parts surviving re-entry.”
    Jeez. Theres a tinge of some wierd arse nationalistic bias in this passage.
    Must be pretty useless experts. The design is open for all to see.
    Of course maaaaybe theres something really weird, dangerous, and dense on the thing.
    But maybe similar for every fucking poxy yank flagged satellite and space station.

    How about you reverse that passage for perspective Greg.

    Contents of Skylab is a yank state secret and outside experts cannot estimate what might hit the ground.

    Hope you get my drift.

  5. >and did not have any on-going “weapons of mass destruction” program.

    While I agree it was a mistake to go into Iraq, I do not agree with this. Remember Joe Wilson’s trip that led to a special prosecutor who got to settle old scores? Well, largely unreported is that his trip served as evidence in favor of the 16 words in Bush’s State of the Union, the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
    This was said by the people Joe Wilson met in Niger as well, that they interpreted discussions of trade to mean they wanted uranium.

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