The random walk of cars and their collision probabilities with planets

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hanno Rein, Daniel Tamayo, David Vokrouhlicky
(Submitted on 13 Feb 2018)

On February 6th, 2018 SpaceX launched a Tesla Roadster on a Mars crossing orbit. 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 orbital evolution is initially dominated by close encounters with the Earth. 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. Long-term integrations become highly sensitive to the initial conditions after several such close encounters. By running a large ensemble of simulations with slightly perturbed initial conditions, we estimate the probability of a collision with Earth and Venus over the next one million years to be 6% and 2.5%, respectively. We estimate the dynamical lifetime of the Tesla to be a few tens of millions of years.

Comments:    5 pages, 4 figures, to be submitted to MNRAS, comments welcome
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1802.04718 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1802.04718v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Hanno Rein
[v1] Tue, 13 Feb 2018 16:35:52 GMT (6043kb,D)

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