Starman and his Tesla Roadster are tracked by telescopes into deep space
15 February 2018 - Autoblog
News cycles move fast nowadays, and last week's launch of Elon Musk's old Tesla Roadster into space aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, and the stunning and surreal images that came from it, have turned to ether.
So too Starman, the spacesuit-clad dummy at the wheel, is drifting farther and farther into the void of space.
Cloudy conditions at the Tenagra Observatories in Arizona forced the cancellation of a planned livestream of telescope images early Wednesday by the folks at the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, but they went live with a 29-minute presentation using older images anyway; you can watch it here. It was to be the last live look at Starman, which was about 2.3 million kilometers (1.43 million miles) away from Earth, about six times farther away from us than the Moon.
Note that we're done getting portrait-style views of Starman like the ones Musk has shared. Engadget reports that the batteries that powered the video system on board the Starman capsule died 12 hours after Falcon Heavy left Earth's atmosphere. Instead we get views of a tiny point of light moving across the sky like a faint satellite, as shown above. Virtual Telescope Project says Starman "is getting dimmer and harder to see."
Meanwhile, the Falcon Heavy payload also contains some seriously advanced high-tech data storage. As noted by InsideEVs, it includes the first-ever digital library created by the Arch Mission Foundation, an organization that aims to "help humanity preserve and spread its knowledge across vast distances of time and space." It digitized Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy, about a mathematician who is able to predict a coming 30,000-year dark age and works to preserve and expand humanity's collective knowledge. Arch (pronounced ark) developed a 5D "optical memory crystal" in quartz that is said to be able to survive for billions of years in the harsh conditions of space. You can read more about that here.
So even if the Roadster itself won't look much like a showroom car in a few million years, extraterrestrial beings who happen to come upon the orbiting oddity may find some good reading material still perfectly intact.