CHINESE space station Tiangong-1 is plummeting towards Earth and is expected to hit on Monday but the latest predictions have indicated it could hit the hermit kingdom of North Korea, it has been revealed.
Website Satflare has a live tracker to show the current location of the abandoned space station and where it might land.
At the time of writing, it is currently hovering over the Atlantic ocean off the coast of North Africa and is predicted to hit south-east China, near the border with North Korea.
China had said its re-entry would occur in late 2017 but that process was delayed, leading some experts to suggest the space laboratory is out of control.
The European Space Agency said: “One of the main reasons why it is so difficult to make accurate reentry predictions, even if just a few days in advance of an expected reentry, materialised during Thursday this week.
“A high-speed stream of particles from the Sun, which was expected to reach Earth and influence our planet’s geomagnetic field, did, in fact, not have any effect, and calmer space weather around Earth and its atmosphere is now expected in the coming days.
“This means that the density of the upper atmosphere, through which Tiangong-1 is moving, did not increase as predicted (which would have dragged the spacecraft down sooner) and hence the ESA Space Debris Office has adjusted the predicted decay rate.”
The Tiangong-1 was sent into orbit in 2011 for experiments as part of China’s space programme.
The space station, which served as both a manned laboratory and an experimental testbed was set for a controlled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
However, it stopped working in March 2016, three years after it was last occupied.
The Manned Space Agency did not specify a time when it expects the space station to crash into Earth in a statement.
No one knows for sure where debris may land though many experts believe much of the station will burn up during re-entry.
South Korea’s National Space Situational Awareness Organization said on its website that the station is expected to re-enter the atmosphere sometime between 5:12am and 1:12pm Seoul time (2012 GMT to 0412 GMT) on Monday.
On Friday the Aerospace Corp said the debris would most likely descend into the Pacific Ocean.
The Aerospace Corp. also said it could land along a strip of the US that includes the southern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
That prompted Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to activate the state’s Emergency Operations Center to monitor the station.
Chris A. Kelenske, Michigan’s deputy director of emergency management and homeland security, said: “the chances are slim that any of the debris will land in Michigan, but the state is monitoring the situation and is prepared to respond quickly if it does.”