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Chinese rocket could shower New York with debris when it crashes back to Earth on Saturday



(Planet Today) The Department of Defense warned that a Chinese rocket hurtling unpredictably back to Earth could crash on a populated area on Saturday, May 8. The Pentagon added that it could not determine at this point where the space junk would land, but reports suggested the range of its potential impact region included New York.

(Article by Virgilio Marin republished from

U.S. Space Command is aware of and tracking the location of the Chinese Long March 5B in space, but its exact entry point into the Earth’s atmosphere cannot be pinpointed until within hours of its re-entry, which is expected around May 8,” Pentagon spokesperson Mike Howard said, adding that the government would provide additional information as it became available.

China used the Long March 5B rocket to launch the Tianhe core module last week. The latter is a major component of the country’s planned space station. The rocket’s 23-ton backbone, the so-called “core stage,” spiraled out of control after separating from Tianhe and is now tumbling unpredictably back into the planet.

Named “2021-035B” by the U.S. military, the space debris measures 100 feet long and 16 feet wide and is traveling at a rate of more than four miles per second, which is fast enough to loop Earth in under two hours.

Rocket’s re-entry could be destructive

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, opined that the core stage’s re-entry could be destructive. He noted that the last time China launched a Long March 5B rocket, long rods of metal showered the sky and damaged several buildings on Ivory Coast in Africa.

“Most of it burned up, but there were these enormous pieces of metal that hit the ground. We are very lucky no one was hurt,” McDowell told The Guardian.

Earlier this week, McDowell said that the rocket’s body would re-enter the atmosphere in an “uncontrolled” manner. Its path would take it to a latitude approximately level with New York, Madrid and as far south as southern Chile and New Zealand, SpaceNews reported.

After burning up in the atmosphere, the surviving debris of the space junk could land anywhere in this range, though the debris could also fall into the ocean and on other uninhabited areas.

McDowell said that China should have enhanced the rocket to perform a controlled de-orbit. He noted that the rocket is seven times more massive than the 4.5-ton upper body of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that burned up above Washington last March.

Pieces of the space junk streaked across the night sky like a meteor shower after an uncontrolled re-entry. There were no reports of injuries but some chunks might have reached the ground on the Rocky Mountains near the U.S.-Canada border.

“I think by current standards it’s unacceptable to let [the core stage] re-enter uncontrolled,” he told SpaceNews.

A Chinese commander said last month that Tianhe’s rocket went through upgrades, but apparently, the capacity for a de-orbit maneuver was not accounted for.

China to launch more rockets into space

The Tianhe launch is just the first of 11 missions needed to complete China’s Tiangong Space Station, which the country aims to complete by the end of 2022. Over the course of two years, China will send two other core modules, four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft into space.

Once complete, the space station will orbit the Earth at an altitude of 211 to 280 miles and have a mass between 88 to 110 tons, which is roughly one-fifth of the International Space Station’s 460 tons.

China aims to become a leading space explorer by 2030 to keep up with the likes of the U.S. and the European Union. On top of building the space station, it also ramps up its spacefaring efforts with missions to the moon and Mars.

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Alien space debris stuck in Earth’s orbit, researchers say




Recently, a group of experts from Harvard University, led by physics
professor Avi Loeb, announced the possible presence of alien space
debris in Earth’s orbit, reports the Daily Star.

space research expert Professor Loeb is confident that the discovery of
such “interstellar objects could help expand our knowledge of possible
alien civilizations and technologies. A team of scientists is conducting
research to confirm that some of the objects in our orbit may be
connected to other star systems.

During an interview with Live
Science, Professor Loeb explained that these objects could enter the
solar system from interstellar space, defying Jupiter’s gravitational
pull and occupying limited orbits around the sun.

Some of them may
have technological origins similar to the probes sent by mankind into
interstellar space, such as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11
and New Horizons.

despite these interesting assumptions, Professor Loeb did not specify
what specific objects he was talking about. In his research report, he
notes that there could be “a significant number” of potentially
detectable objects in Earth’s orbit.

To confirm their assumptions,
the team of scientists uses computer simulations and the Vera Rubin
Observatory (Chile) with a high-resolution camera of 3.2 billion pixels.
This will allow for regular observations of the Southern sky and the
possibility of detecting several captured objects about the size of a
football field.

It is assumed that these interstellar objects passed through the
boundaries of the solar system and may carry unique information about
other civilizations and their technologies. If we could confirm the
origin of these objects, the mysteries that open before us, this would
be a real breakthrough in space exploration.

Professor Loeb
expresses hope that the new research will not only help expand our
knowledge of extraterrestrial technologies, but may also lead to the
discovery of new alien civilizations . Answers to such questions can be
of global significance and influence our understanding of the place of
mankind in the Universe.

while there are still many questions and assumptions, the study by
Professor Loeb and his team opens a new chapter in space exploration.
Each new discovery can be the key to deciphering the mysteries of the
cosmos and the possibility of encountering alien life forms.

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Betelgeuse is acting strange again




Betelgeuse, a red giant on the brink of death, continues to show
unusual behavior. After the Great Blackout, which occurred in late 2019
and early 2020, the star became unusually bright. It is now the seventh
brightest star in the sky, while it normally ranks tenth. This has led
to speculation that Betelgeuse is preparing to explode in a
spectacularly large supernova.

However, scientists believe it’s too early to tell, and it’s likely
that this behavior is due to ongoing fluctuations after the Great
Blackout of 2019, and the star will return to normal within a decade.

Betelgeuse is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. It is
about 700 light-years from Earth and is a red giant in the last stage of
its life. It is also an unusual star for a red giant because it was
previously a monster blue-white O-type star, the most massive class of

Betelgeuse has changed its spectral type because it has almost
exhausted its hydrogen reserves. It now burns helium into carbon and
oxygen and has expanded to a gigantic size: about 764 times the size of
the Sun and about 16.5 to 19 times its mass.

Eventually it will run out of fuel to burn, become a supernova, eject
its outer material, and its core will collapse into a neutron star.

Before the Great Blackout, Betelgeuse also had periodic fluctuations
in brightness. The longest of these cycles is about 5.9 years and the
other is 400 days. But it seems that the Great Blackout caused changes
in these oscillations.

A new paper by astrophysicist Morgan McLeod of the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has shown that the 400-day
cycle appears to have been halved. This pulsational cycle is probably
caused by expansion and contraction within the star. According to
simulations carried out by MacLeod and his colleagues, the convective
flow inside Betelgeuse may have risen and become material that separates
from the star.

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