Elon Musk’s Tesla 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 die-hard Musk-haters would eagerly admit is pretty cool.

The roadster has since been on an endless journey, currently leaving Earth at an impressive 25,290 kilometers per hour (15,715 miles per hour), with a more impressive fuel efficiency of 10,671 kilometers per liter (25,100 miles per gallon). . ), at the time of writing.

Since its launch on February 6, 2018, the car has circled the Sun 4.1 times according to the Where Is Roadster tracker, spinning as it goes. In 2018, we got a close-up look at the vehicle as it approached Earth.

Observing the machine isn’t exactly the most pressing concern of astronomers (like, what the hell is going on all those disappearing stars), but few have tried to calculate the vehicle’s fate and whether it poses a threat to Earth.

In 2018, a newspaper did just that, although it was a difficult task due to the machine’s strange orbit.

“The Roadster has many similarities to Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs), which are scattered through the inner solar system chaotically through (i) repeated close encounters with terrestrial planets and (ii) the effects of mean motion and secular resonances.” the team explains in the paper.

“Initially, KTAs reach their orbits from the outermost main belt via strong resonances (such as the 6th secular resonance or the 3:1 strong mean-motion resonance with Jupiter). When entering these escape routes, many KTAs are directed into nearly sun-dipping radial orbits.”

This puts the probability of impact with terrestrial planets at a relatively low level, just over 2 percent. Tesla, however, is a little different.

“Tesla’s initial orbit grazes that of Earth, so an initial period of increased collision probabilities with Earth can be expected before it randomly settles into a more NEA-like trajectory,” the team continued. “Therefore it is unclear whether the Tesla is likely to scatter into distant, strong resonances and suffer the same fate as the wider NEA population, or whether it will first hit one of the terrestrial planets.”

By looking at Tesla’s orbit, which crosses the orbits 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 make another approach in 2047 at about 5 million kilometers (3.1 million miles). Beyond 100 years, repeated close encounters with the planets make long-term predictions of the machine’s chaotic orbit “impossible.”

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

On a much longer time scale, the team calculated that the car has about a 22 percent chance of hitting Earth, a 12 percent chance of hitting Venus, and about the same probability of hitting the Sun as hitting Venus. Fortunately for Musk, this will happen over a time frame 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 sentience, could beg for a quicker impact. While traveling through space, the dummy has listened to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” over 624,000 times in one ear and “Life On Mars?” played in the other ear more than 841,000 times.

The study is published in Aerospace.

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Image Source : www.iflscience.com

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