Dude, where's my luxury Tesla?
Last Tuesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made history when he launched the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket since the Saturn V took Apollo astronauts to the moon. The Heavy’s payload was Musk’s personal Tesla roadster, a $100,000 luxury car made by one of Musk’s other companies. Six hours after launch, the car and its passenger—an empty SpaceX suit dubbed “Starman”— were on an escape trajectory that Musk hoped would put the car in an elliptical orbit around the Sun and allow for some closes brushes with Mars.
A few hours later, Musk took to Twitter to announce that SpaceX had overshot its planned trajectory a wee bit and the hot rod was now headed to the asteroid belt. According to Space.com, however, the Twitter astro community ran the numbers and it appears that the car will actually pass closer to Mars than the asteroid belt.
For those of you who don’t trust Musk or a bunch of extremely online astro geeks to tell you where the space convertible is, fear not: You can track it for yourself on the aptly-named whereisroadster.com.
Developed by self-described “space nerd” Ben Pearson, whereisroadster gives you up to the second updates on the location of Musk’s whip. The data is provided by the Jet Propulsion Lab’s HORIZONS System which tracks objects in our solar system. Pearson takes this data and uses it to describe how fast the car is moving relative to the Earth and to Mars, and how many times the Tesla roadster has surpassed its 36,000 mile warranty.
It’s kind of like the old PC game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, except instead of tracking an fictional criminal around the globe, you’re tracking a real billionaire’s personal sports car in the endless void of deep space.
So what are you waiting for? Go watch those numbers representing the orbital trajectory of a car you’ll never be able to afford and that will far outlast your brief blip of existence in this unfeeling universe constantly change forever. It’s fun and educational!