EUGENE, Ore. - A Chinese space station could reenter the Earth's atmosphere over Oregon in the next two weeks, according to experts in the field of space debris.
China lost control of the Tiangong-1, the country told the United Nations in 2016.
The space station will make an uncontrolled reentry into the Earth's atmosphere on April 1, 2018, plus or minus 4 days, according to The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California.
Aerospace says the space station will crash to Earth between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south, roughly two-thirds of the planet's surface.
For reference, Roseburg sits at 43.2165 degrees north.
Medford is at 42.3265 degrees north - within the reentry window.
Debris is more likely to land in regions towards the extremes of that range, which includes Southern Oregon and all of California, according to Aerospace. Those areas are denoted in yellow in the map above.
Most of the space station will burn up upon reentry.
"Hydrazine, a highly toxic and corrosive substance, may survive reentry on pieces of space debris," Aerospace notes.
Overall, the debris poses little risk to the Earth, Aerospace says.
"Any surviving reentry debris will most likely fall into an ocean," according to Aerospace. "The odds of space debris hitting you are less than one in 1 trillion."
If the space station does reenter over a populated area, it could create quite the sight for observers.
"Incandescent objects during this reentry may be visible and will likely last up to a minute or more, depending on time of day, visibility conditions, and the observer’s location," Aerospace says.
Tiangong-1 launched in September 2011. China made two manned missions to the station over the course of the next two years.
China intended to control the space station's return to Earth using thrusters but told the United Nations in 2016 that control of the space station had "ceased functioning."
Aerospace's Center for Orbital Reentry Debris Studies is tracking the space station's reentry and will provide updates closer to the date of anticipated reentry. Multiple factors, including the density of the atmosphere and the spacecraft's orientation, could alter the reentry window.