Terrifying rendition of the debris done by Michael Carroll.
This is weird. Just a few weeks after we heard about the scary possiblity of a German satellite crashing down into the heart of Beijing last October, now Shanghai Daily tells of another threat from the skies! Last month around 17 flights arriving in Shanghai on January 16 were instructed not to land for fear of space debris incoming from a failed Russian Mars probe, which incidentally landed on the other side of the planet…
From Shanghai Daily:
The regulators asked the planes to circle around Pudong and Hongqiao international airports about 1am on January 16 after being informed that some pieces of the probe might be dropping to the city, said the East China Regional Administration under Civil Aviation Administration of China.
So first of all, we’re no space debris vs. aviation experts, but how is the risk made any better by remaining in the sky?
The world sat up and noticed when it was announced that debris from Phobos-Grunt spacecraft would make up the heaviest piece of space junk ever (at 14.5 tons) to plummet uncontrollably towards earth.
Still, it seems totally paranoid for Shanghai flight authorities to redirect traffic, considering the debris eventually crashed down in the Pacific off the coast of Chile, some 18,000km away from Shanghai if we’re reading our maps right. I mean, we’re talking a “give-or-take” area of almost half the earth’s circumference.
We’re guessing the hysterics were probably due to an alarming amount of guess work and confusion surrounding estimates for the debris re-entry, which changed five times in the days preceding the event.