There is a Small Chance Elon Musk's Tesla Could Crash Back to Earth

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 - 9:34PM
Space
SpaceX
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 - 9:34PM
There is a Small Chance Elon Musk's Tesla Could Crash Back to Earth
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Instagram/Elon Musk
Ever since SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket which just so happened to include a Tesla Roadster as its payload, there's been some debate over where exactly that Tesla is going as it flies through space.

Now marked as an official celestial object by NASA, Elon Musk's Tesla and the mannequin behind the wheel (named "Starman") may have actually overshot their trajectory to Mars, the original destination, although it won't end up in the asteroid belt either. In fact, it's likely to just drift through our solar system in an elliptical orbit indefinitely over the next few eons. Or not, potentially.



Researchers at the University of Toronto examined the Tesla's trajectory and made some calculations, and have determined that there's about a six percent chance that the Tesla could wind up colliding back into Earth at some point over the next million years. So Starman could be coming home, it's just that the chances of you being alive to witness that are astronomically slim.

According to the report:

Opening quote
"By running a large ensemble of simulations with slightly perturbed initial conditions, we estimate the probability of a collision with Earth and Venus over the next one million years to be 6% and 2.5%, respectively. We estimate the dynamical lifetime of the Tesla to be a few tens of millions of years."
Closing quote




In the meantime, the first opportunity for this to happen will be in 2091, when the Tesla makes its first close encounter with the Earth since its departure. The chances of the car actually re-entering Earth's atmosphere instead of whizzing just past us are pretty negligible, but it's a non-zero chance.

So don't expect Musk to get his car back during his lifetime, unless he's either extremely lucky or if he indulges his supervillainous tendencies and uploads his brain into a cyborg.
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