The Chinese Long March 5B (CZ-5B R/B) rocket stage will re-enter atmosphere soon: an exceptional image – 6 May 2021.
As you likely know, a large Long March 5 rocket body (CZ-5B R/B) from the recent launch of the Chinese “Tianhe-1” space station core module is going to re-enter our atmosphere in a few days. Meantime, we could capture an exceptional image of the module.
The image above comes from a single, 0.5-second exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the exceptionally fast (0.3 deg/second) apparent motion of the object.
At the imaging time, the rocket stage was at about 700 km from our telescope, while the Sun was just a few degrees below the horizon, so the sky was incredibly bright: these conditions made the imaging quite extreme, but our robotic telescope succeeded in capturing this huge debris. This is another bright success, showing the amazing capabilities of our robotic facility in tracking these objects.
As you can see, on the bottom of the bright image of the rocket there is the typical CCD blooming effect, due to the extreme brightness of the object.
As for the re-entry, CZ-5B R/B is expected to re-enter in our atmosphere on 09 May 2021 02:34 UTC ± 21 hours, a prediction which will improve while we will approach the event.
This is a huge debris (22 tons, 30 meters long and 5 meters wide), but it is unlikely it could create serious damages. Of course, such an event reminds us about the importance of the space debris issue.
We dedicate this effort to the memory of our dear friend Alfredo Ciccone, who passed away last Tue: may you rest in peace and have fun with the skies.
We will try to capture it agian and, perhaps, to show it live before it ends its adventure, so stay tuned!
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