It was February 2018 ago when SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla Roadster on board to Mars. At the wheel of the electric sports car born in Elon Mask’s other big company was “Starman”, a special mannequin who wore a space suit for the occasion. In more than two years the vehicle has performed approx 1.7513 orbits around the Sun, and in recent days the first close flyby of Mars took place.
“Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made his first close pass to Mars, within 0.05 astronomical units, or less than 5 million miles, of the Red Planet”. So SpaceX announced on Twitter the latest important milestone reached by Tesla, which with its Roadster sped about 8 million kilometers from Mars. “It’s a long distance”he told CNN Jonathan Dowell, astronomo dell’Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “The diameter of Mars would be about 1/10 of that of the Moon, therefore small but not a point”. Dowell tracked the rocket’s position through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons system, which shows its trajectory calculated from the Falcon 9’s initial orbit.
According to the website whereisroadster.com, which tracks the vehicle’s position, the Tesla Roadster launched into space more than two years ago has now traveled the same distance he would have traveled, crossing 57.6 times all the roads in the world. Currently the vehicle is more than 37 million miles from Earth and it has traveled nearly 1.3 billion miles. However, it will still take many years for Tesla to approach Earth again. “It will pass about 5 million kilometers from Earth in 2047, not close enough to be able to see it in the sky”, Dowel explained. According to experts from the University of Toronto in Canada, the Roadster has a 6% chance of crashing to Earth in the next million years and a 2.5% chance of crashing on Venus. And it is not certain that, one day far away, Starman will not be able to return to our planet.