SpaceX launched the extravagant payload into space onboard a Falcon Heavy rocket on February 6, 2018. The unusual launch has since passed its first anniversary in space and has now achieved a new milestone. According to the Starman tracker whereisstarman.com, the electric sports car and its dummy pilot have completed a lap around the Sun on August 18. Ben Pearson, who has tracked Starman for the website, tweeted: “Starman and @elonmusk’s Tesla Roadster have now officially completed the first orbit around the Sun, and are now somewhere on the opposite side of the Sun from us.”
Where is the Starman and Tesla Roadster right now?
According to the tracking website, at 7.12pm BST (6.12pm UTC), the sports car was located 1.997 astronomical units from our Earth.
A single astronomical unit measures the distance from the Earth to the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.6 million km).
In other words, Starman is hurtling through space about 185.6 million miles (298.7 million km) away from us.
The car was launched last year on an orbital trajectory that swings past the orbit of Mars and down to Earth’s orbit again.
Will the SpaceX Roadster and Starman hit the Earth?
Shortly after the SpaceX launch in 2018, a trio of astronomers calculated the orbital trajectory of Starman to determine where the dummy pilot will crash.
According to orbital dynamics experts Hanno Rein, Daniel Tamayo and David Vokrouhlicky, there is a possibility of the sports car making its way back to Earth.
In a research paper dubbed The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets, the astronomers charted Starman’s journey over the next few million years.
The men found three likely targets for the Roadster to crash into – the Earth, Venus and the Sun.
The researchers wrote in their study: “On February 6, 2018, SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster on a Mars-crossing orbit.
“We perform N-body simulations to determine the fate of the object her the next 15 million years.
“The orbital evolution is initially dominated by close encounters with the Earth.
“While a precise orbit can not be predicted beyond the next several centuries due to these repeated chaotic scatterings, one can reliably predict the long-term outcomes by statistically analysing a large suite of possible trajectories with slightly perturbed initial conditions.”
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According to the study, there is a 22 percent probability of the Starman hitting Earth in 15 million years.
There is a 12 percent chance of the Roadster flying into Venus over 15 million years.
There is also a 12 percent chance of the SpaceX payload crashing into the Sun in 15 million years.
The study said: “Collisions with the Earth, Venus and the Sun represent primary sinks for the Roadster’s orbital evolution.
“Collisions with Mercury and Mars, or ejections from the Solar System by Jupiter, are highly unlikely.”