Following its launch from the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, the Tesla was supposed to be placed into a heliocentric orbit that would see it pass both Earth and Mars as it went around the Sun.
Unfortunately that didn’t go as planned, with the Falcon Heavy’s rocket burning just a bit more than predicted.
While initially expected to just float through the solar system until its eventual demise, a team of scientists have thrown together a few calculations and predicted that the car could in fact come full circle.
According to Hanno Rein from the University of Toronto and two other authors the car could, over several million years, edge itself ever closer with the first close encounter happening as soon as 2091.
Now as amusing as it would be to have the Tesla end up right where it started we should note that there are two fairly massive pinches of salt to be taken here.
The first is that this is an estimation which doesn’t account for the simple fact that it could interact with other objects in space such as fast-moving particles, rocks or debris that could push it off course.
It also doesn’t account for the way in which the other planets could interact with the car as it passes through their gravitational pull.
The car in question is Elon Musk’s first ever Tesla Roadster. Painted cherry red, complete with a spaceman dummy the car was the only payload from SpaceX’s first ever Falcon Heavy test flight.
With a 50/50 chance of failure, the rocket launch was the first demonstration of not only SpaceX’s most powerful rocket ever, but of the most powerful rocket in the world currently.
Expected to lift twice as much cargo as its competitor, Falcon Heavy should be able to deliver astronauts, space station equipment and satellites and then land itself upon reentry.