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Preocupación por la pronta caída a la Tierra de una estación espacial china fuera de control


Raquel Segovia
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La estructura pesa unas ocho toneladas y está acercándose al planeta desde hace varios meses. Científicos no logran descifrar el lugar ni la fecha precisa de su impacto

La estación espacial Tiangong-1

La estación espacial Tiangong-1

El año 2017 estuvo repleto de interesantes avistamientos de asteroides y "accidentes" espaciales que le dio a millones de personas una razón para mirar al cielo; pero la mayor amenaza desde el espacio exterior en 2018 podría ser provocada por el hombre, según alertó este lunes el New York Post.

La estación espacial china Tiangong-1 está cayendo completamente fuera de control desde hace meses, y las agencias espaciales de todo el mundo esperan que se estrelle contra la Tierra a principios de 2018. Lamentablemente, nadie sabe exactamente cuándo o dónde caerá este enorme trozo de basura espacial.

Tiangong-1, que significa "Palacio Celestial", recibió a varios astronautas chinos durante su breve vida, pero después de que su misión terminara en 2016, la agencia espacial china reveló que había perdido la comunicación con esa nave y que su orbitaje eventualmente llevaría a que caiga en picado hacia la Tierra.

 
La caída que registró la estación en 2016 (Space-Track)
La caída que registró la estación en 2016 (Space-Track)
 

Los científicos que han estado monitoreando la problemática intentaron pronosticar dónde podría chocar, pero solo han podido reducirlo a un área entre los 43 grados norte y los 43 grados sur. La mayor parte de esa área está cubierta por el océano, pero aún hay una probabilidad de 1 en 10 de que los escombros aterricen en un área poblada, lo que podría dañar a estructuras y/o personas.

La estación espacial pesa unas ocho toneladas y, aunque gran parte del material se quemará debido a la fricción con la atmósfera de la Tierra, se espera que miles de kilos de desechos sobrevivan al reingreso. Al no poder controlar dónde o cuándo vuelve a ingresar el aparato, es imposible predecir la ubicación exacta donde aterrizarán los escombros.

 
estacion-espacial-china.jpg
 

Según una pregunta frecuente sobre el Tiangong-1, el impacto real de los restos podría no ser la parte más peligrosa de su caída hacia la Tierra. Los materiales potencialmente peligrosos, incluida la hidracina, un químico altamente tóxico utilizado en el combustible para cohetes, podrían sobrevivir al regreso al planeta.Si cualquier humano o animal entra en contacto con esa sustancia, podría sufrir unos efectos muy peligrosos.

Se espera que la nave espacial finalmente caiga a la Tierra en algún momento de marzo, aunque los observadores solo han podido reducir su fecha de descenso a un intervalo de dos semanas, lo que no es particularmente tranquilizador. Cuando finalmente comience a caer, los científicos tendrán muy poco tiempo para predecir el área de impacto, pero pueden estar seguros de que todas las agencias espaciales del planeta la vigilarán de cerca.

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