- How do I find out how far Falcon Heavy's Starman is from earth right now?
- Current position of Starman
- How close will the Tesla Roadster with Starman actually get to Mars?
These questions had me thinking about the subject. I came to realize that people really were interested in the tracking of these objects. I started thinking about how I could manage to get this information, and then I came to realize that I could provide the tracking for it myself! I quickly registered this domain name, and started to think about how I could get the information so I could pass it on to you. My first attempt wasn't pretty. I started with the TLEs of the spacecraft orbiting the Earth and provided enough acceleration at the right time to achieve the 12 km2/s2 that Elon Musk mentioned in this tweet. I put together this estimate, found the location from Earth for a few days, and posted that information to the website.
My first impression was that I was amazed at how many people visited this site. On the first day alone, over 25,000 people visited here. I realized that I was indeed right, people were interested in this.
The current data that I am using comes from JPL Horizons. I am very thankful for this wonderful resource they have provided. I now have a script that I run periodically to update the information files that I have, which will allow for me to track this object, to the best of human understanding, for some time to come. This information will eventually expire, no longer being useful. I'm not sure exactly when that will be, but I suspect in a few years. Certainly it will be difficult to see when it next comes close to the Earth, which won't be for a long time.
As for my background, I graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2007, and a Masters degree in 2010. I have been working with Aerospace technology since 2005, when I joined the Student Satellite program at the University of Arizona. I have worked with the HiRISE camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and with commercial satellites as well. I am a moderator on Space StackExchange Question and Answer site. I do not own a Tesla, but I am in the reservation queue for a Tesla Model 3.
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