On Wednesday, SpaceX’s Tesla roadster made its primary close approach to Mars. Mannequin, dubbed Starman, wearing a spacesuit, drove the roadster. It was a part of a dummy payload bind to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket’s 2nd stage that launched back in 2018.
The roadster, ‘driven’ by a mannequin dubbed ‘Starman’ wearing a spacesuit, was part of a dummy payload attached to the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket that launched in 2018 https://t.co/yWa9WJwVcb
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) October 8, 2020
SpaceX tweeted on Wednesday that the roadster made its primary close approach with Mars, coming within five million miles of the planet. An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan Dowell, tells CNN that it is a long distance. Mars would seem approximately 1/10 the diameter of the Moon, too small but not a point.
Starman, last seen leaving Earth, made its first close approach with Mars today—within 0.05 astronomical units, or under 5 million miles, of the Red Planet pic.twitter.com/gV8barFTm7
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 7, 2020
Dowell chased the rocket using the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons System of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It has a precise path calculated from the initial orbit of Falcon 9 as it left Earth. Further, he says that it is in elliptical orbit across the Sun. In a tweet, Jonathan McDowell wrote that the stage passed the orbit of Mars some days before, around October 5.5. However, Mars was further away from it then had reached that part of its orbit.
The stage passed Mars’s orbit a couple days earlier, about Oct 5.5, but Mars was further from it then (hadn’t reached that part of its orbit). pic.twitter.com/mWUoUn0UO9
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) October 7, 2020
whereisroadster.com is tracking the roadster’s location
According to the website whereisroadster.com, Roadster done around 1.7507 orbits across the Sun. The website officially tracks the location of the vehicle. The vehicle (roadster) is more than thirty-seven miles from Earth and traveled around 1.3 billion miles since its launching almost two years and eight months ago, according to whereisroadster.com.
Though it’ll be sometime earlier, it comes near to Earth again. Dowel explains that it will pass almost five million km from Earth in the year 2047. Not too much nearby to see it as a resolved object. One day, Starman could crash-land back on Earth. According to the calculations made in a paper from the University of Toronto in Canada by Hanno Rein. The vehicle has a six percent chance of crashing on Earth in the upcoming million years. Whereas, it has a 2.5 percent chance of hitting Venus.
Initial launches of new rockets are risky things, which clarifies why SpaceX decided to put the Roadster and Starman aboard the first Falcon Heavy launch as a dummy payload. The Falcon Heavy since launched two latest missions, and both of them are operational flights. The booster hit the communications satellite Arabsat-6A in April of the previous year and delivered around two dozen payloads to orbit for different types of customers two months later.
According to NASA, Starman (a SpaceX spacesuit) placed into the seat of the driver. It also includes the Hot wheels toy model of the Roadster having a small Starman inside along with a storage device containing Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels. Supposedly, the sound system of the car played the song of David Bowie “Space Oddity.”