MAY 28, 2019 5:12 PM PDT

Will Elon Musk's Space-bound Tesla Roadster Ever Return to Earth?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

It was just over a year ago that SpaceX lofted Elon Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster with the ‘Starman’ dummy passenger into outer space on the maiden flight of the commercial space company’s Falcon Heavy rocket, but will we ever see this space-bound electric supercar again? And if so, when?

Astronomers began crunching numbers to answer this question shortly after Starman launched, but as you might come to expect, it’s never wise to count your chickens before they hatch. Like most things, the Starman-centric data was apt to change, and that it did.

According to some of the latest calculations, Starman will fly within 4.5 million miles of Mars by 2020; sadly, Mars-based telescopes aren’t powerful enough to spy on Starman at this distance. Another Mars-esque flyby will transpire within 1.5 million miles by 2035, and while current Mars-based telescopes won’t be able to see Starman from that distance, it’s hoped that we’ll have more advanced observatories nested on the red planet’s surface by then.

As for Earth… astronomers have calculated that Starman’s next close approach with its home planet will happen in 2047 within 3 million miles. This is close enough for telescopes on Earth to observe and measure the object in space.

But is it possible to return Starman to Earth? The idea of capturing satellites and bringing them back to Earth isn’t unheard of, but it would be particularly challenging to do this with Starman since he’s floating somewhere outside of Earth’s orbit. It’s somewhat unlikely that Starman will be brought back to Earth in the near future, but perhaps technological advances in the distant future could make this possible.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
JUL 18, 2020
Closest Ever Images of the Sun Expose Previously Unknown Features
New images from the Solar Orbiter, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) that launched in Feb ...
AUG 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
In a Rare Event, Massive Star Disappears Without a Supernova
AUG 02, 2020
In a Rare Event, Massive Star Disappears Without a Supernova
Astronomers were studying a massive star in the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy from 2001 to 2011. When they went back in 2019 to lo ...
SEP 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Could There Be Life on Venus?
SEP 10, 2020
Could There Be Life on Venus?
Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, reaching 465 degrees Celcius- a temperature hot enough to melt lead. Wh ...
OCT 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
OCT 07, 2020
Earth-Sized Rogue Planet Found Drifting Through Our Galaxy
A team of astronomers has found a lone planet the size of Earth drifting through the Milky Way. Known as a ‘rogue ...
NOV 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
NOV 14, 2020
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
Researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have shown that bacteria can increase space mining efficiency b ...
NOV 19, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Martian Water Vapor Gets Swept Into Space
NOV 19, 2020
Martian Water Vapor Gets Swept Into Space
Mars was once a planet with oceans of water. So what happened to all of it? Researchers used a tool called MAVEN (Mars A ...
Loading Comments...