By AMANDA TORRES
The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6 was successful. There is a Tesla roaming space right now, playing “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, with a mannequin wearing a spacesuit whose name is Starman in the driver’s seat.
In the Tesla, there is a screen that says, “Don’t Panic!” But what is going to happen to it now? And where is it headed?
This past Tuesday night, Elon Musk announced via his Twitter that the Tesla, named “Red Roadster,” exceeded its envisioned orbit and would eventually pass by Mars and into the asteroid belt.
According to CNNtech, experts in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory took a look at SpaceX’s data.
Based on their observations, they inferred that “the farthest it will go is about 250 million kilometers from the sun, or about as far as Mars,” contrary to what Musk predicted. This prediction by NASA was supported by Johnathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who also took a look at the data.
By November, it is believed that it will reach its farthest point from the sun. But by September 2019, CNNtech said that the Tesla will complete a full loop around the sun. The expected path of the Tesla, however, could change by then, rising another problem and discussion.
Because solar radiation can shift the Tesla into a different direction, or because excess gas in the second-stage rocket can also move it into an unknown path, it is hard to predict its path and final destination.
While they still can, astronomers are taking the opportunity to take shots of where the Tesla is now. They are saying that the it will be too far away from Earth to spot by next week.
While the path of the car aligns with Earth’s orbit, CNN informed its readers that space expert Marco Langbroek made calculations that predicted that the Tesla would not be spotted again until 2073. But even he said that any predictions made right now would lack reliability. Being an asteroid expert, he also said that another possibility would be that the car could be confused with an asteroid.
Luckily, NASA added the Red Roadster, as well as Starman, into its “artificial object catalog” to avoid it being mistaken with anything else.