If you have been following the journey of Elon Musk’s spaced-out Tesla Roadster, now is the time to check it out because within a few months it will be too far from Earth to track with telescopes.
This is according to a website dedicated to showing the position of the Roadster, called ‘Where is Roadster’. The website was created by Ben Pearson, founder of Old Ham Media, who decided to create the website following the massive interest in the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch in February.
He currently uses tracking data from JPL Horizons (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and, being a coder himself, decided to write a website around it. He updates the charts daily by using a script that runs periodically to update the information and track the Roadster with its passenger (called Starman). He notes that the information on the website will ultimately expire and become useless, probably after a few years — but he plans to continue updating for as long as there is interest in the website.
The website has a few noteworthy features, like being able to show you where the Roadster will be at any specific date up to 16 November 2020, a shop section (to support the guy putting in all the work), and it is currently working on a virtual live feed. The actual Roadster’s battery has been dead since 12 hours after launch, so there is no actual live video feed available. More’s the pity.
The Roadster is disappearing into space at present, but will ultimately orbit around the sun back to us after its long journey to (and past) Mars orbit. According to the JPL, it will only be possible to actively track the Roadster up until April after which it will be very hard to see with a survey telescope. Then they will need a more powerful telescope to track it (and the Hubble is booked for more pressing tasks).
The Roadster journey is part of the worldwide race to get to Mars and SpaceX is out in front, having proven that they can get a payload to Mars orbit with their Falcon Heavy Rocket — while also salvaging most of the vehicle for reuse.
Source: Where is Roadster