The probability the Tesla Elon Musk launched into space will hit Venus

  • Elon Musk launched this Tesla Roadster into space in 2018
  • Six years on, it’s still orbiting the Sun
  • Researchers have looked into whether or not the car will collide with Venus

Published on Jul 10, 2024 at 10:06 PM (UTC+4)
by Ben Thompson

Last updated on Jul 11, 2024 at 12:29 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

The Tesla launched into space in 2018 is likely to have a crash landing – but it won’t be on Earth.

Elon Musk launched a Tesla Roadster into space six years ago, with a mannequin named Starman at the helm.

Since then, Starman has been circling the sun, with David Bowie songs playing through each of his earphones.

READ MORE: Elon Musk plans massive expansion of Starship to prepare for Mars missions

How likely is it that the Tesla Roadster will hit Venus?

A team of researchers were curious about where the Roadster would end.

Using a series of computer simulations, they plotted the car’s path through the solar system over the course of the next 3 million years.

From this, they were able to estimate the Roadster’s odds of colliding with certain planets.

For Earth, there was a 6 percent chance that it would collide in the next million years.

Over that same length of time, the odds of hitting Venus were slightly less likely at 2.5 percent.

Lead researcher Hanno Rein, director of the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Centre for Planetary Science, 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.”

Should a collision occur, most or all of the Tesla will burn upon entering the atmosphere.

Given the span of time over which this is being projected, there’s a lot of uncertainty and not a lot of specifics.

The Tesla will likely have many encounters with Earth over the millennia, but it’s unclear how these will shape its journey through space.

Study co-author, Dan Tamayo, also from the University of Toronto Scarborough, said: “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.”

The study also found that the Roadster will pass by Earth in 2091, when it will come within a few hundred kilometers of its home planet.

It’s not worth fretting about at any rate.

This is all part of Musk’s wider ambitions for space – one dream he has is for humans to one day travel to Mars.

At the ‘affordable’ price of $100,000 per ticket, of course.

# Tags - Elon Musk, Space


Ben Thompson

Ben got his start in journalism at Kennedy News and Media, writing stories for national newspapers, websites and magazines. Now working as a freelancer, he divides his time between teaching at News Associates and writing for news sites on all subjects.