18Feb2018

Astronomers Spot Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster in Flight

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as seen by the ATLAS telescope. Image credit: University of Hawaii. Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as seen by the ATLAS telescope. Image credit: University of Hawaii.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as seen by the ATLAS telescope. Image credit: University of Hawaii.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster as seen by the ATLAS telescope. Image credit: University of Hawaii.

Astronomers using the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) telescope in Hawaii have captured images of the Tesla Roadster launched into space as part of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy test.

ATLAS is an asteroid impact early warning system being funded by NASA and developed by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. It consists of two telescopes, 100 miles (161 km) apart, which automatically scan the whole sky several times every night looking for

moving objects.

ATLAS was not looking for Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster — it was found during routine observations and automatically identified as a near-Earth object. “Our mission is designed to look for things coming toward Earth, but this time investigators found something going away from Earth,” said University of Hawaii astronomer Dr. Larry Denneau, principal investigator for the ATLAS project. “As a fan of what SpaceX is doing, it is fun to be a part of advances in science.”

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. Image credit: SpaceX.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster. Image credit: SpaceX.

The Tesla Roadster was seen as a moving object in four separate observations. After it was detected by the automatic software system, its positions were submitted to the International Astronomical Union Minor Planet Center, which is responsible for determining the orbits of asteroids and other small solar system objects.

The object was immediately identified as the recently launched Tesla Roadster. ATLAS’ orbit determination software pinned down the orbit from the four observations, measuring it about 500,000 miles (805,000 km) from Earth, speeding away at about 8,000 mph (3.6 km/sec).

“We were lucky to catch the Roadster before sunrise during our regular observing,” Dr. Denneau said. “This really demonstrates the power of our system to find small objects that could hit Earth, and accurately measure their orbits to see if they’re dangerous.” Source:  Sci-News.com

Track Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster inspace Via Website

If you want to know where the first car cruising our Solar System is right now, there’s a website for that — aptly called Whereisroadster.com. The website was created by engineer Ben Pearson, who’s been passionate about space since he was in third grade. “I read every book in my little library that I could about space and space exploration stuff,” he tells The Verge. The day of the Falcon Heavy launch, he saw that people online were asking questions about tracking the Tesla Roadster in space. So he decided to figure it out — and create a website that gives the answer.

if you want to know where the first car cruising our Solar System is right now, there’s a website for that — aptly called Whereisroadster.com.

The website was created by engineer Ben Pearson, who’s been passionate about space since he was in third grade. “I read every book in my little library that I could about space and space exploration stuff,” he tells The Verge. The day of the Falcon Heavy launch, he saw that people online were asking questions about tracking the Tesla Roadster in space. So he decided to figure it out — and create a website that gives the answer.

If you really want to know, the Roadster is now over 1.8 million miles (over 3 million kilometers) from Earth, according to Pearson’s website, which uses data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At first, the car was supposed to go out to the orbit of Mars. But it actually overshot that trajectory, going slightly beyond the Red Planet’s path but not as far out as the asteroid belt, as Musk originally claimed.

After the launch, Pearson started modeling where the car could be in space, but his calculations didn’t match the orbit Musk had released. How did he feel when he found out he was right and Elon Musk was wrong? “I was just relieved to know that I wasn’t doing anything critically wrong,” Pearson says. “Elon Musk is a visionary man, incredibly far forward, but there’s a reality distortion field when it comes to him.” Extracted: Verge

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