KEY POINTS

  • Starman and the Roadster made their first close approach to Mars
  • The duo cruised by at just under 5 million miles away from the planet
  • Starman is expected to continue its cruise for millions of years before it crashes into either Earth or Venus

Car and space enthusiasts alike are sure to get excited with this news. Starman, the spacesuit-clad mannequin by SpaceX, just “drived” by Mars for the very first time.

The astronaut dummy driving Tesla’s Roadster was launched as a payload about two years ago aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy’s debut flight, and it just hit another breakthrough on Friday — cruising by Mars just under 5 million miles away, the closest it has ever been, based on a tweet made by SpaceX’s official Twitter account.

The famous duo (Starman and the Roadster), was 60,120,702 km away from Earth and has an orbital period of 557 Earth days according to whereisroadster.com‘s calculations. It moves at a speed of 54,768 miles per hour. Since its launching last February 2018, the duo has traveled far enough to drive all of the Earth’s roads 57.6 times — nearly 2.1 billion kilometers.

Since its entry to heliocentric orbit, Starman and the Roadster have been enjoying their outer space cruise, and is projected to continue enjoying it for many more years to come.

The Red planet definitely has been one of the biggest subjects of recent space news. Last Oct. 6, Mars made its close approach to Earth, the closest it can get for the next 15 years. And now, with the Starman and Roadster making its close approach to Mars, it has shed even more spotlight on the mysterious planet.

Starman and Tesla’s Roadster is expected to still cover many miles before the eventual end of its cosmic journey. In an article from Space.com, Elon Musk (Tesla & SpaceX founder) explains that the duo is likely to crash on Earth or Venus in a few million years, with a 6% chance of an Earth impact and 2.5% for Venus. When that happens, most or all of the Tesla Roadster will burn up in the atmosphere.

Although seen as another clever marketing stunt, the Roadster and the astronaut dummy offers people a glimpse of what could be the future of space travel — hopefully enough to “drive” people to aim farther as well.

Tesla RoadsterMinutes after launching the Falcon Heavy rocket, SpaceX was live streaming footage from the Tesla Roadster it released into space. In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the Falcon Heavy rocket with a dummy driver named ‘Starman’ heads towards Mars. Photo: SpaceX via Getty Images

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