SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Tesla roadster made its first close approach to Mars on Wednesday.
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.
SpaceX tweeted yesterday that the vehicle made its first close approach with Mars, coming within 5 million miles of the planet.
“It’s a long distance,” Jonathan Dowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN. “Mars would appear about 1/10 the diameter of the Moon, so small but not a point.”
Dowell tracked the rocket using NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Horizons system, which has an accurate trajectory calculated from the Falcon 9’s initial orbit as it left Earth. He says that it is in elliptical orbit around the