A 20-ton rocket is plummeting towards Earth and scientists don't know where it will land
China used its Long March 5B rocket to launch the second module of the Tiangong Space Station on Sunday.
Now that rocket is hurdling uncontrollably back towards Earth during reentry, making it challenging to predict where it might fall.
You are probably familiar with this story if it sounds like it
A similar uncontrolled reentry of the rocket's core stage occurred with China's previous two launches of this rocket in 2020 and 2021.
This 10-story-tall rocket is expected to reenter Earth's atmosphere on Saturday at 2:24 p.m. EDT
according to The Aerospace Corporation, a business that monitors the reentries of space debris. However, there is a 6-hour window.
The reentry encounters unknowns, which is why there is such a big window.
The reentry window can differ depending on the location of the Earth's atmosphere, solar weather, and even the rocket's materials' melting points.
The rocket might reenter overhead anywhere between 41.5 degrees North and South latitude. Florida and a large portion of the United States are included in this.
The areas with the best chances of reentry are those at latitudes as high as +/- 41.5 degrees.
There is a non-zero chance that the rocket crashes down over a populous region, even though an ocean crash landing, like the one we witnessed in 2021, is most plausible.
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