Elon Musk's bright red Tesla Roadster, which was launched into space aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6, could be looping around the Solar System and will survive close encounters with Earth for millions of year.

The car and its driver, the mannequin named Starman, is currently looping around the sun on an elliptical orbit.

Small Odds Of Crashing Into Venus Or Earth Over The Next 3 Million Years

A team of researchers who wanted to know the fate of the Roadster after it was launched into space decided to perform computer simulations to track the vehicle's orbit in the Solar System over the next 3 million years.

They found that there is only a 6 percent chance that the car will crash into Earth over this period. The Roadster may also crash into planet Venus but the chance of this happening is just 2.5 percent.

"We perform N-body simulations to determine the fate of the object over the next several million years, under the relevant perturbations acting on the orbit," the researchers wrote in their study due to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "The first close encounter with the Earth will occur in 2091. The repeated encounters lead to a random walk that eventually causes close encounters with other terrestrial planets and the Sun."

The researchers noted that orbits of small objects like the electric car are difficult to track and forecast far into the future. The vehicle is anticipated to have many gravitational encounters with Earth and it isn't yet clear how these would influence its trek through space.

Dynamical Lifetime Of Elon Musk's Tesla Car

Starman and the Tesla car will have its next close encounter with Earth sometime around the end of this century. It will be the first of many anticipated encounters. With each of this flybys past Earth and other bodies in space, the car's orbit is perturbed and becomes more difficult to predict.

"Each time it passes Earth the car will get a gravitational kick," explained Dan Tamayo, from University of Toronto Scarborough and one of the authors of the paper.

"Depending on the details of these encounters the Tesla can be kicked onto a wider or smaller orbit, so it's random. Over time the orbit will undergo what's called a random walk, similar to the fluctuations we see in the stock market, that will allow it to wander the inner solar system."

Simulations about how these encounters may happen, however, allow scientists to have a pretty good estimate on how these would turn out and they have so far concluded that the dynamical lifetime of the car would likely be a few tens of millions of years.

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