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China’s space lab could crash to Earth on Saturday, scientists say

科学家表示中国空天实验室可能在周六坠毁



But chances of being hit by a piece of debris are smaller than winning the lottery, experts predict

但专家预测,被碎片击中的几率比中奖概率还小。

One of the largest Chinese spacecrafts in orbit could crash back down to Earth as early as Saturday, authorities said on Monday.

周一中国官方表示中国最大在轨航天器可将在周六返回地球。

The re-entry of Tiangong-1 into the atmosphere “will be between March 31 and April 4, 2018,” according to a statement posted on the website of the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

中国载人航天办公网站一份声明显示天宫一号将在2018年3月31号到4月4号之间重返大气层。

While most components of the eight-tonne craft are expected to burn up as it re-enters the atmosphere, some debris might survive and make it back to ground level, the statement said.

声明称尽管这艘8吨重飞船的大部分碎片会在大气层中燃烧殆尽,但还有些碎片会落到地面。

Beijing has been unable to pinpoint where the debris might fall because the spacecraft is now entirely out of control. It has been tumbling and spinning randomly, so scientists have been unable to map its trajectory.

北京方面也无法确定碎片落点因为航天器已经完全失控。它一直在翻滚旋转,科学家也无法描绘其轨迹。

Some experts have said Tiangong could crash anywhere between 43 degrees north latitude and 43 degrees south, a massive area that would include parts of the United States in the north, to Australia in the south.

一些科学家表示天宫可能坠毁在北纬43度到南纬4度之间,一片涵盖美国北部和澳大利亚南部的广大区域。

Dr Zhu Jin, director of Beijing Planetarium, said, however, that the chances of anyone being hit by a piece of falling debris were lower than those of winning the lottery.

而北京天文馆主任朱锦博士表示被碎片击中的概率比中五百万大奖还低。

The most likely outcome was that any pieces of the spacecraft that did make it through the atmosphere would land in the sea, which covered 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface, he said.

他表示航天器碎片最可能穿越大气层坠落到占地球表面70%面积的海洋。

The Aerospace Corporation put the odds of someone being hit at less than one in a trillion.

航空公司估计被击中几率不到一万亿分之一。

People should just sit back and enjoy the spectacle, as if it were a really expensive firework, Zhu said. The 10-metre long spacecraft cost hundreds of millions of yuan to build.

朱主任表示人们可以坐在家里欣赏这场昂贵的焰火表演。这艘10米长飞船耗资数亿元建造。

“When it enters in the atmosphere, it may look like an unusually bright, unusually slow meteorite,” he said.

他表示:“当飞船落入大气层时,看起来会像一颗异常明亮缓慢下落的陨石。”

But even witnessing the event would require luck, as the re-entry might not even be visible if it happened during the day, Zhu said.

朱主任表示要看到这一幕也得靠运气,如果发生在白天可能就看不到了。

Tiangong-1 was orbiting at an average altitude of about 212km on Monday, or about 4km lower than the day before, according to China’s manned space programme office.

中国载人航天计划办公室数据显示周一天宫一号平均在轨高度约为212千米,比前一天低了4公里。

The estimated crash date is based on analysis performed by the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center and other professional organisations, according to the official statement.

官方声明称预计的坠落时间由北京航空航天飞控中心以及其他专业机构综合得出。

The European Space Agency made a similar forecast over the weekend, setting the date at between March 30 and April 2, “give or take a few days”.
The Chinese government said it would release monitoring information and updated forecasts on a daily basis.

欧洲航天局上周末也做出了类似预测,将飞船坠落日期定在3月30日至4月2日之间,“有几天时间”。
中国政府表示将每天发布监测信息和更新坠落地点。

Tiangong-1 was put into orbit on September 29, 2011 as a stepping stone towards the launch of China’s first full-size space station, which is expected to be completed in the early 2020s.

天宫一号于2011年月29日以中国首个全尺寸空间站试验机的身份送入轨道,该空间站预计将于2020初建成。

The laboratory comprised several modules and was able to support up to three astronauts for two weeks at a time. In its lifetime it was involved in six rendezvous and docking missions with manned Shenzhou spacecraft, and made “significant contributions to the development of China’s manned space mission” space authorities said.

航天专家表示,该天空实验室由几个模块组成,一次能支持三名宇航员两周在轨生存。在其运行周期中,它完成了六次与神舟飞船的载人交会对接任务,并为“中国载人航天事业发展做出了重大贡献”。

On March 16, 2016, Tiangong-1 terminated its data service, officially ending the mission and starting its orbital decay.
Tiangong-2, a similar spacecraft, remains in orbit and is functioning as it should.

20163月16日天宫一号终止了数据服务正式结束飞行任务,在轨运行速度逐渐减小。
类似的天宫二号宇宙飞船仍在轨运行,并按其设计方式正常运行。

Nasa’s 85-tonne Skylab space station is the largest spacecraft ever to make an uncontrolled return to Earth. Several large pieces of debris from it crashed into the Australian town of Esperance in 1979.
The town’s authorities issued Nasa with a US$400 fine for littering, but the US space agency never paid up.

美国宇航局发射的85吨重天空实验室空间站是有史以来最大的返回式航天器。1979年,其坠落后产生的几块大碎片坠入了澳大利亚Esperance 镇。
该市当局向美国国家航空航天局开出了400美元的罚单,罪名是乱扔垃圾,但美国航天局解决认罚。