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Plus, there’s something called outgassing, which Ron Turner, a senior scientific advisor to NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts, says could also affect the car’s trajectory a little bit.
“There’s air all throughout the car,” Turner says. “In the vacuum of space, any gases in the seat cushions, the doors, the glove box, and even in the space of the steering wheel wrapper, all of that gas and water vapor from Earth’s atmosphere is eventually going to come out. It doesn’t have any reason to stay there.”
Gases - Roadster - Directions - Turner - Roadster
And when the gases do come out, they’ll push the Roadster in various directions. Turner agrees that we could see the Roadster again in five years—but says it could also be “seven and a half, ten or eleven. It’s reasonable we’ll see it again, it just depends on what orbit it finally gets itself into.”
What will it look like?
Think - Artifact - Titanic - Ocean - Turner
It’ll probably be a little weathered. “Think of it as finding an artifact, like the Titanic under the ocean,” Turner says. “It’s not gonna be in great shape, it won’t stay pristine.”
The Roadster will be worn down by two things. The first is a constant “sandblasting” of tiny dust-like particles called micrometeorites that whiz through space at high speeds, according to Turner. “Those little motes of dust, which are mostly just fractions of grams, are going to be hitting the car at 20 kilometers per second,” he says. “They’ll vaporize and scatter the paint and make nice little pits in the metal.” Over decades, that could make the Tesla lose its deep cherry-red color.
Force - Roadster - Radiation - Plastic
The second force that’ll hit the Roadster is radiation. “Anything with plastic or...
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