Elon Musk’s Space-flying Tesla Roadster and its Starman pilot could be on a collision course to Earth, experts say.
The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, that launched last February, is now barreling through space with its dummy payload of the car and its “driver” beyond the orbit of Mars.
However, there is said to be a “significant possibility” it could crash into Venus or Earth.
In a joint research paper, published under the title of ‘The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets’, scientists predict Starman’s journey over the next few million years.
They find that Earth, Venus and the Sun are the three most likely crash targets, the Daily Express reported.
Meanwhile, collisions with Mercury and Mars are the least likely outcome. And this is the same for Jupiter’s gravity catapulting the vehicle out of the solar system.
However, there is no need to start panicking just yet as if it does happen, it will not be for another million years.
Orbital dynamics expert Professor Hanno Rein said: “Although we are not able to tell on which planet the car will ultimately end up, we’re comfortable saying it won’t survive in space for more than a few tens of millions of years.”
The boffins said that Starman, the brainchild of billionaire entrepreneur Musk, will be closest to Earth within the first 100 years of its launch and to get an idea of distance, it will be was close as the Moon.
The study reads: “Using an ensemble of several hundred realisations we were able to statistically determine the probability of the Tesla colliding with the Solar system planets on astronomical timescales.
“Although some of the orbits experience effects due to mean-motion and secular resonances criss-crossing the NEA space, the orbital evolution remains initially dominated by close encounters with the terrestrial planets, in particular Earth, Venus and Mars.”
Last year, Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX made history by launching a 230ft mega rocket into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
On board the rocket was a payload carrying a cherry red Tesla Roadster which blasted David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ from its stereo.
As well as the roadster, which Musk, 47, used to drive to work, a mini Hot Wheels version of the Tesla sports car, with its own miniature Starman, is also on board. It appears to be fixed to the centre of the car’s dashboard.
So far, SpaceX has experienced 49 successful rocket launches, recovered 21 first stages and reflown six of these since the company was founded in 2002.