The Tesla Elon Musk Launched into Space Has a 22 Percent Chance of Hitting Earth (Eventually)

Six years ago, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a Tesla into space, in a stunt that even the most hardened Musk haters would grudgingly admit was pretty cool.

The Roadster has had an amazing journey since then, currently moving away from Earth at an impressive speed of 25,290 kilometers per hour (15,715 miles per hour), with an arguably more impressive fuel consumption of 10,671 kilometers per liter (25,100 miles per gallon ). ), at the moment of writing.

Since its launch on February 6, 2018, the car has orbited the sun 4.1 times, rolling over, according to tracker Where Is Roadster. In 2018, we got a closer look at the vehicle as it approached Earth.

Keeping an eye on the car isn’t exactly astronomers’ most pressing concern (e.g. what the heck is going on with all those disappearing stars), but a few have tried to calculate the fate of the vehicle and whether it poses a threat to Earth.

In 2018, a newspaper did just this, although it was a difficult task due to the car’s eccentric trajectory.

“The Roadster shares many similarities with Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs), which diffuse chaotically through the interior of the Solar System due to (i) repeated encounters with the terrestrial planets, and (ii) the effects of mean motion and secular resonances,” explains the team in the newspaper.

“Initially, NEAs reach their orbits from the more distant main belt via strong resonances (such as the secular 𝜈6 resonance or the strong 3:1 mean motion resonance with Jupiter). Upon entering these escape routes, many NEAs are found on near-radial orbits that are in diving into the sun.”

This makes the chance of an impact on terrestrial planets relatively low, at just over 2 percent. The Tesla, however, is a little different.

“The initial Tesla orbit is close to that of Earth, so one might expect an initial period of increased collision probabilities with Earth before randomizing into a more NEA-like trajectory,” the team continued. “It is therefore unclear whether the Tesla is likely to spread to distant, strong resonances and suffer the same fate as the broader NEA population, or whether it will impact one of the terrestrial planets first.”

Looking at Tesla’s orbit, which intersects the orbit of Mars and Earth, the team was able to predict the likelihood that it would crash into the terrestrial planets (including our favorite, Earth).

The car will come close again in 2047 at about 5 million kilometers (3.1 million miles). After more than 100 years, repeated encounters with the planets make long-term predictions of the car’s chaotic orbit “impossible.”

“However, using an ensemble of several hundred realizations, we were able to statistically determine on astronomical timescales the probability that the Tesla would collide with the planets of the solar system,” the team wrote.

On a much longer timescale, the team calculated that the car has a roughly 22 percent chance of hitting Earth, a 12 percent chance of colliding with Venus, and about the same chance of hitting the sun as Venus. Fortunately for Musk, this will happen on a timescale of millions of years, and is unlikely to affect Tesla’s stock prices.

The Starman placed in the vehicle, assuming it is still intact and somehow achieves consciousness, can pray for a quicker impact. While traveling through space, the doll has listened to David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and ‘Life On Mars?’ in one ear more than 624,000 times. listened. has been played in his other ear more than 841,000 times.

The research has been published in Aerospace.

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