On Feb 6, SpaceX launched its highly anticipated rocket of the year, Falcon Heavy with a Tesla Roadster atop. The reports have crowned Falcon Heavy as the most powerful rocket available presently. With the launch, Elon Musk’s Maroon Tesla Roadster was lifted into space in an elliptical orbit around the Sun with possible encounters with the red planet Mars. Soon after the launch, Musk tweeted that the rocket followed a slightly different trajectory which raised a lot of assumptions. Canadian astrophysicists recently undertook a model test on the Roadster’s orbit and found out that it will soon crash into the Earth. The research further explained the possibility of encounters with other planets as well.
Soon after the launch, Falcon Heavy mounted with Tesla Roadster on top and a dummy mannequin named Starman were set to wonder the space in its elliptical orbit around the Sun. However, Musk revealed that the car is heading to a different trajectory with a difference of few points hinting that the car could crash into the red planet, Mars. However, Canadian astrophysicists who prepared a draft on the car’s orbit found out the striking difference in the trajectory after feeding in a plethora of numbers and calculations.
Originally, the car will follow its elliptical orbit around the Sun and commence its flyby to Mars on June 10 at a distance of 68.7million miles. Fast forward to July, the car & Starman will pass through Mars’ Orbit and mark its full extent of the journey at around 154.7million miles on November 9th before circumnavigating back to its starting point. The data suggest that the car will enter the inner solar system on August 15, 2019, when it will come at an all-time low point of orbit called Perihelion. This will be a continuous trajectory for the Roadster until it finally flybys near Earth and other planets where it will be subjected to gravitational pull force of these planets. The path is filled with uncertainties which will eventually change the trajectory over time resulting in finally hitting a planet in next tens of millions of years with an average possibility of 50%.
The car is expected to fly-by Earth in 2091 when it will be at less than the lunar distance from the Earth. The NASA’s HORIZONS was used for simulations which revealed that the car could collide with the Earth in around 3 million years until then, it will flyby Earth and various other planets. The research suggested that the possibilities of the car crashing into Earth are around 6% while the possibilities crashing into Venus are just 2.5%.
The researchers studying long-term gravitational interactions between the car and planets stated that eventually, the car will burn to ashes if coming years. It means, even if the car hits the Earth, it would be a negligible compared to its current size. It also conveyed that the car will soon start deforming after being hit by tiny micrometeorites if not asteroids where the chances of being hit by the latter are feeble. Concluding the research, Dr. Rein, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto said that the Roadster and Starman who are constantly listening to David Bowie’s song on a loop which pass through the Earth every 30 years and within 100 years, it will pass within the lunar distance. Tesla SpaceX has availed a Live feed of the roadster orbiting in the space on YouTube.