Starman – driving a cherry-red Tesla Roadster through dummy space – made his approach to Mars.
That electric convertible with its toy passenger bolted to the top of the Falcon Heavy Rocket as Stalt during the first test launch of the SpaceX rocket on February, 6, 2018. (Test launches usually include heavier payloads, but they’s generally more boring than cherry-red sports cars.) Two years later, the Falcon Heavy’s upper stage and the vehicle at its peak are making their second trip around the sun. Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who identifies space objects as a side project, discovered that the Starman traveled 4.6 million miles (7.4 million kilometers) from Mars to Mars at 2:25 a.m. EDT on October 7. This is 19 times the distance Land Reached Mars 35 times closer to the Moon, and to anyone on Earth.
(The closest approach between the two planets in 2003 was 34.8 million miles (56 million km). World Atlas, Although the planets are often hundreds of millions of miles apart.)
Within 0.05 astronomical units of the Red Planet pic.twitter.com/gV8barFTm7, or within 5 million miles, Starman made his first close contact with Mars today, the last time he left Earth.October 7, 2020
No one can see the upper stage of the Falcon Heavy at the current distance. The strange, beautiful images that once inhabited the earth have long since ceased to exist. But orbits over a period of a few years are very simple to maneuver and McDowell used data about how the rocket moves when it exits the Earth. Gravity Behind to identify its recent movements.
The roadster-bearing rocket phase is in an asymmetrical orbital course, which is 1.66 times the distance from the Sun to Earth at one end of the trek – beyond Mars orbit – and then back to the other end of Earth’s orbit, 0.99 times the distance from the Sun to Earth.
This phase passed through the second ephemeral of its 0.99 x 1.66 AU orbit and returned to Mars orbit a few days ago. pic.twitter.com/C6b8LffPuyOctober 7, 2020
The last time Starman orbited the Sun, McDowell said, it crossed Mars orbit, but the Red Planet was far away. At this point the crossing is covered with a very close approach – Martin is not yet close enough to feel the strong tug of gravity.
At this point, if you go to see the roadster, it looks very different. As Reported in Live Science 2018, Harsh solar Radiation The interplanetary environment may have destroyed all exposed organic matter (red paint, rubber tires, leather seats and the like). Carbon bonds They are together. Without the Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic shielding, even strong plastics in windshields and carbon fiber materials will begin to break down. Over the course of decades or centuries, the car would have to be reduced to its aluminum frame and glass parts – none of them would be destroyed by crossing space rocks.
Originally published in Live Science.