Starman — the dummy riding a cherry-red Tesla Roadster through space — has made his closest approach ever to Mars.
That electric convertible with its mannequin passenger bolted to the top of a Falcon Heavy rocket as a stunt during the SpaceX rocket’s first test launch Feb, 6, 2018. (It’s common for test launches to include heavy payloads, but they’re usually more boring than cherry-red sportscars.) Two years later, the Falcon Heavy upper stage and the vehicle at its tip are making their second trip around the sun. Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astrophysicist who tracks space objects as a side project, found that Starman passed 4.6 million miles (7.4 million kilometers) from Mars at 2:25 a.m. EDT Oct. 7. That’s about 19 times the distance from Earth to the moon, and 35 times closer than anyone on Earth has gotten to Mars.
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