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Thread: Tesla Roadster / Starman - orbital characteristics

  1. #1
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    Tesla Roadster / Starman - orbital characteristics

    Anybody have the orbital characteristics for the Tesla Roadster/Starman?

    I wanted to enter them into my Starry Night program. So I could ride along!

  2. #2
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    Well, see what Musk tweeted as a start:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVZ0h3YW4AIc-9w.jpg

    Apohelion: 2.61 AU
    Perihelion 0.98

    But I haven't seen any ephemeris data yet.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Well, see what Musk tweeted as a start:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVZ0h3YW4AIc-9w.jpg

    Apohelion: 2.61 AU
    Perihelion 0.98

    But I haven't seen any ephemeris data yet.
    Wow, they really gave it a bit more of a push than they proposed. Let's hope it doesn't end up smashing into something farther on down the road.
    I know that I know nothing, so I question everything. - Socrates/Descartes

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaCaptain View Post
    Wow, they really gave it a bit more of a push than they proposed. Let's hope it doesn't end up smashing into something farther on down the road.
    "But, officer, I had the right of way ..."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    "But, officer, I had the right of way ..."
    LOL, It doesn't matter if the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it's going to be bad news for the pitcher.
    I know that I know nothing, so I question everything. - Socrates/Descartes

  6. #6
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    From Bill Gray of Project Pluto, tweaked with images during the escape burn, preliminary orbital elements were:

    Orbital elements: 2018-017X
    Perigee 2018 Feb 7.108542 +/- 0.000217 TT = 2:36:18 (JD 2458156.608542)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 8.0 TT = JDT 2458157.5 Gray
    q 7131.80034 +/- 1.97 (J2000 equator)
    Peri. 152.15202 +/- 0.024
    Node 285.31375 +/- 0.0012
    e 1.2024743 +/- 0.000383 Incl. 29.21177 +/- 0.0018

    Orbital elements: 2018-017X
    Perihelion 2018 Feb 6.490939 TT = 11:46:57 (JD 2458155.990939)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 10.0 TT = JDT 2458159.5 Earth MOID: 0.0002 Ma: 0.0114
    M 2.25389 (J2000 ecliptic)
    n 0.64230639 Peri. 180.09192
    a 1.33037645 Node 317.25015
    e 0.2585965 Incl. 0.74743
    P 1.53/560.47d q 0.98634572 Q 1.67440719

    These are completely "unofficial" at this point.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    From Bill Gray of Project Pluto, tweaked with images during the escape burn, preliminary orbital elements were:

    Orbital elements: 2018-017X
    Perigee 2018 Feb 7.108542 +/- 0.000217 TT = 2:36:18 (JD 2458156.608542)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 8.0 TT = JDT 2458157.5 Gray
    q 7131.80034 +/- 1.97 (J2000 equator)
    Peri. 152.15202 +/- 0.024
    Node 285.31375 +/- 0.0012
    e 1.2024743 +/- 0.000383 Incl. 29.21177 +/- 0.0018

    Orbital elements: 2018-017X
    Perihelion 2018 Feb 6.490939 TT = 11:46:57 (JD 2458155.990939)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 10.0 TT = JDT 2458159.5 Earth MOID: 0.0002 Ma: 0.0114
    M 2.25389 (J2000 ecliptic)
    n 0.64230639 Peri. 180.09192
    a 1.33037645 Node 317.25015
    e 0.2585965 Incl. 0.74743
    P 1.53/560.47d q 0.98634572 Q 1.67440719

    These are completely "unofficial" at this point.
    I wonder how long the roadster will last out there before it turns into a big lump of lithium circling the sun. That's if the main batteries are still in it. It would be an interesting thing to visit when it comes back around. Any guesses when it might be back in our neighborhood?
    Last edited by DaCaptain; 2018-Feb-08 at 03:24 PM.
    I know that I know nothing, so I question everything. - Socrates/Descartes

  8. #8
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    Heard on the news that the looped music would only last about 6 hours before the battery was drained, was wondering if the music had a solar power source to last for decades or not.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    Heard on the news that the looped music would only last about 6 hours before the battery was drained, was wondering if the music had a solar power source to last for decades or not.
    Musk missed a co-branding opportunity to put some Tesla solar panels on the car or the mating platform.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for posting those orbital elements!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaCaptain View Post
    I wonder how long the roadster will last out there before it turns into a big lump of lithium circling the sun. That's if the main batteries are still in it. It would be an interesting thing to visit when it comes back around. Any guesses when it might be back in our neighborhood?
    I thought I heard someone on TV or on-line saying it would have a close approach to Earth in 2030, but I can't find a reference now and I don't know how close "close" is.

    The best I could find was this.
    For most of its orbit, the car will be floating between Mars and Jupiter. But it will pass through Earth’s orbit every once in a while and have “very rare close approaches to the Earth and Mars,” explained Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen's University Belfast.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  12. #12
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    Slightly updated elements as of the next morning (also circulated by Bill Gray)

    Orbital elements: Sped-up
    Perihelion 2018 Jan 28.639832 TT = 15:21:21 (JD 2458147.139832)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 9.0 TT = JDT 2458158.5 Earth MOID: 0.0000 Ma: 0.0934
    M 4.63650 (J2000 ecliptic)
    n 0.40813685 Peri. 168.57287
    a 1.79997100 Node 317.89354
    e 0.4554736 Incl. 3.36051
    P 2.41/882.04d q 0.98013165 Q 2.61981035

    Orbital elements: Sped-up
    Perigee 2018 Feb 7.107275 TT = 2:34:28 (JD 2458156.607275)
    Epoch 2018 Feb 8.0 TT = JDT 2458157.5 Gray
    q 7133.54306km (J2000 equator)
    Peri. 148.15635
    Node 285.92927
    e 1.7405665 Incl. 28.92091

    (called 'Sped-up' because it requires a boost in speed over the
    earlier C3=12 km^2/s^2 solution.)

    (Also, the payload is now recognized by the JPL Horizons system for coordinate predictions - under the list of spacecraft select Tesla Roadster!)

  13. #13
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    Best headline so far from the Register in the UK:

    MY GOD, IT'S FULL OF CARS: SpaceX parks a Tesla in orbit (just don't mention the barge)
    And this from Jonathan McDowell, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (several tweets joined together):

    Revised heliocentric orbit using the JPL ephemeris is 0.986 x 1.667 AU x 1.05 deg. (My estimate used a simple patched conic approximation, JPL do the proper job).

    Using the JPL ephemeris, the closest predicted approach to Mars between now and 2030 is 7 million km on 2020 Oct 8. This is still well outside Mars' gravitational sphere of influence.

    In contrast, the Roadster will not return anywhere near Earth by 2030; closest it gets after this month is Mar 2021 at a distant 45 million km.

    Summary: Starman will be lonely for a long time to come.
    ETA: And Alan Fitzsimmons has created a graph which shows how Jupiter affects the Tesla's orbit over time.
    Last edited by schlaugh; 2018-Feb-08 at 05:31 PM.

  14. #14
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    so, bear with me, I mess with this stuff in Starry Night every couple of years, so there's always a re-learning curve.

    It looks like you're giving two sets of data, two possible orbits for the object?

    So, say, call it 2018-017X-version1 and 2018-017X-version2?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by algomeysa View Post
    Anybody have the orbital characteristics for the Tesla Roadster/Starman?

    I wanted to enter them into my Starry Night program. So I could ride along!
    Here is a simulation of the Tesla's orbit using the latest data from JPL Horizons.
    If you want to see the orbital elements for Starry Night, with the simulation paused, click menu Objects > Edit Objects Orbital Elements
    http://orbitsimulator.com/gravitySim...9Horizons.html

  16. #16
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    Amateur astronomers are still tracking it.

    spaceweather.com (I suspect the story will only be on that page for a day or so)

    Using that ephemeris, along with a remote-controlled telescope in Siding Spring, Australia, amateur astronomer Adriano Valvasori photographed the Roadster on Feb. 8th. It is the faint speck circled in red:

    At the time, the car was 493,000 km (306,000) away, not far beyond the orbit of the Moon, receding from Earth about 3.7 km/s (8,300 mph). Reflecting sunlight, it shone about as brightly as a 16th magnitude star.
    The image (click to magnify)
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  17. #17
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    Here is a little video of it. Odd, I'm pretty sure one of those lights were red, but it didn't stop. [2nd pun]
    We know time flies, we just can't see its wings.

  18. #18
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    I'm seeing two specks on the same trajectory there. Is one the payload and the other (presumably the brighter one) the second stage?
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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