I know the long term outlook is quite difficult to say, but how close will the Tesla Roadster actually get to Mars on it's first orbit around the Sun?

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  • $\begingroup$ Since we know Musk's plot is way wrong I've been adding warnings about that to prevent people reusing it. And yet, here it is again... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 9 '18 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Can you provide a reference for this, or provide a reason for the discrepancy between the plots? I was a bit surprised when I heard the Roadster was going to go near the asteriod belt rather than Mars orbit, and thought this was a major goof-up as it wasn't planned. Now I see that it IS going near Mars orbit. Can you explain? $\endgroup$ – Steve Sether Feb 13 '18 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveSether I added some pictures in my answer. You can see the real orbit doesn't go nearly that far out, although I haven't added Ceres, yet. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Feb 13 '18 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveSether See PearsonArtPhotos answer, and also see this answer which I wrote a day before I wrote that comment, where I explain how to know where Roadster is by using Horizons. While the orbit has been slightly refined a few times in Horizons, it looks fairly well understood now. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 13 '18 at 20:02

The closest approach will be on June 10, 2018, and will be approximately 0.74 AU away. So not very close. Per http://www.whereisroadster.com/close_approach.html

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But it is of some note that on October 10, 2020, Starman will only be 0.05 AU away, close enough to be affected by the gravity of Mars.

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    $\begingroup$ Would that more likely to make the orbit intersect/crash with mars, or slingshot it into another trajectory? $\endgroup$ – Tschallacka Feb 14 '18 at 12:09

Here is a simulation generated with JPL Horizons data from today (Feb 13). It shows you distance and speed relative to Sun, Earth, and Mars.


By pressing T on your keyboard you can speed up or slow down the simulation, but don't exceed 8192 or the integration will become unreliable.

The trajectory is based on astrometric measurements as recently as yesterday. Horizons warns "Over time, trajectory prediction errors could increase more rapidly than the formal statistics indicate due to unmodeled solar pressure, thermal re-radiation, or outgassing accelerations that are not currently characterized but may exist."

  • $\begingroup$ I don't really know how to use that app but it looks like they get really close in mid April of 2035. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Feb 13 '18 at 19:49

protected by Community Feb 19 '18 at 16:21

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