Here's How Likely It Is Tesla Comes Crashing Back to Earth

Elon Musk launched Roadster into space earlier this month
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2018 12:13 PM CST

Scientists say there's a 6% chance Earth will having flying cars in the future. Specifically one flying car: the Tesla Roadster Elon Musk launched into space earlier this month. Researchers analyzing the car's orbit say there's a 6% chance it will crash into Earth at some point over 1 million years, Science reports. That chance goes up to 10% after 3 million years. The Tesla, which is being driven by a mannequin in a spacesuit, will have its first close call with Earth in 2091, when it could come closer than the moon, according to CBS News. Regardless, Hanno Rein at the University of Toronto says falling electric vehicles are nothing to worry about. “It will either burn up or maybe one component will reach the surface,” he tells Science. “There is no risk to health and safety whatsoever.”

Rein and his fellow researchers found the Roadster's orbit will have it repeatedly crossing the paths of Mars, Earth, and Venus until it's destroyed. They say the car has a 50% chance of orbiting the solar system for tens of millions of years before that happens. It will cross Mars' orbit in July before reaching its farthest distance from the sun—154.7 million miles—in November. However Rein warns these are all just educated guesses due to the Tesla's chaotic orbit. Meanwhile, a Hubble Fellow at the University of North Carolina tweeted that measuring the brightness of the Roadster shows it's rotating every 4.8 minutes or so. And put together a cool 80-second video showing the Roadster from its launch to the moment it becomes just a tiny dot traveling across the sky 500,000 miles from Earth. (More Tesla stories.)

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