- Tram Ho
The electric car that Elon Musk launched into space more than two years ago has just passed Mars for the first time.
SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Musk, took his Tesla Roadster sports car into space with a Falcon Heavy rocket in February 2018 with a mannequin wearing an astronaut named “Starman” behind. steering wheel.
This car also carries a Hot Wheels toy model of itself, of course also includes a tiny Starman guy inside. The boot contains a copy of the science fiction novel “Foundation” by Isaac Asimov and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams, along with a scarf and a sign with the words ” Don’t Panic “(don’t panic). The speaker on the car even played “Space Oddity” by David Bowie.
Since that time, the second floor of the rocket has been floating freely in space because there is no fuel for the thrusters, with Musk’s red car on top.
” It’s a rocket deck with a small head-mounted ornament, ” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Space Physics. McDowell himself measured the trajectory of the Tesla as it passed Mars.
This Tesla was supposed to go into a circular orbit between Mars and the Sun. But for some reason, it ends up going into an ellipse (oval), causing it to fly away from Mars orbit, towards the Asteroid Belt and complete an orbital loop every 557 days. . The vehicle’s flight path had sent it across Mars’s orbit once before, but at the time the planet was not close to the point where Starman intersected with its path.
Musk’s Tesla first approached Mars at 2:25 p.m. ET on Wednesday, passing the red planet about 7.4 million kilometers – as calculated by McDowell.
Neither Tesla nor the Falcon Heavy deck attached to the vehicle sent signals back to Earth, so McDowell calculated its path from the last data it left with Earth. He used the same gravity data that NASA used to fly his spaceships.
” It’s a pretty accurate extrapolation, because we understand gravity quite well, ” said McDowell. ” The only thing that can cause errors is what we call emissions: if there is excess fuel, or if the paint in the chassis is peeled off, then they are like a small rocket propeller. car forward. But that doesn’t change things very much either .
But Starman cannot observe Mars close-up. According to McDowell’s calculation, at the aforementioned distance, the planet would be about one-tenth the size of the moon as we see it from Earth.
” If you do a passing mission, it will be seen as a failure. Because the distance is too far to take pictures enough to use, ” – McDowell said. ” You can see Mars is round .”
But he added that ” it’s interesting that it gets so close “.
Musk’s car is expected to cross the Earth on November 5, about 52 million km away. It will eventually cross Venus and Mercury.
Shortly after the Tesla Roadster was launched, three researchers at the University of Toronto calculated that the car would glide through space until it crashed into Earth, Venus, or the Sun somewhere in. … 10 million years from now.
Source : Genk