Identifying the Tesla Roadster in Space

Pictures have emerged of an extremely small dot of light, said to be the Tesla Roadster that was launched into space in early February of 2018. It wasn’t easy to gain an image of the Tesla. After all, it is wandering through space approximately 2.1 million miles out from Earth. This put a decent amount of distance between it and the photographers who were determined to track it down. Scientists, however, got the job done. While the images may not appear as more than a tiny dot of light, reliable data indicates that the Tesla has been captured on film.

Gianluca Masi from Italy, an astrophysicist, helped to secure the photograph. The brightness of the Tesla in space is extremely low. It falls 40 million times below that of the Polaris star. This made for challenge when trying to capture it on film. Masi worked with Michael Schwartz in Arizona at the Tenagra Observatory. Together they managed to take 300-second exposures from a telescope at the Observatory. They averaged out 10 of these and came up with the final product.

It took a lot of data from different sources to declare the position of the Tesla and be sure of what they were seeing. Data from the Minor Planet Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was used. Earlier pictures were taken shortly after the Tesla launched when it was only 292,000 miles away from earth. This was about 2 days after takeoff. Future pictures may need to be done with a 3.2 foot telescope, and eventually images are sure to be impossible. Part of the confirmation at this point also relied on the Tesla’s movement. A series of pictures were necessary to accomplish the progression of movement. This action, however, helped to validate the image of the Tesla.