SpaceX launched the Tesla Roadset into space on board the Falcon Heavy rocket just last month and now the electric car and its launch have been embroiled in a controversy.
Roadster also had a mannequin named Starman placed in the driver’s seat. While the launch marks a great achievement in terms of space research and technology for human beings, some people are of the view that Starman isn’t the only thing the car is carrying to space.
According to two Purdue University professors, rocket payloads are usually made to go through regular cleaning and sterilization processes before being launched into space so that they don’t contaminate space. This is also done to ensure that no terrestrial organisms could potentially stowaway onto another planet.
But, SpaceX’s Roadster did not go through the same sterilization and cleaning processes before its launch. This means the Tesla Roadster was likely filled with bacteria collected from its manufacturing process as well as from Musk’s trips around the Los Angeles area in the car.
A press release from Purdue University claims that the Roadster, if wasn’t sterilized before launch, might be carrying the largest ever load of earthly bacteria launched into outer space.
“Saturation of bacteria in Tesla can be considered as a biogas or a backup of life on Earth,” said Alina Aleksenova, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Purdue.
Jay Melosh, a professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences at Purdue University, claimed that if there is an indigenous Mars biota, it’s at high risk of being contaminated by terrestrial life. Melosh pointed out that even if the car was radiated the outside, its engine would be dirty. He added that there’s a big difference between clean and sterile.
Meanwhile, people who are keen on tracking Tesla Roadster’s current location can visit the website, Where is Roadster. The website not only records the car’s speed and distance from Earth, but it also lists a “close approaches” page that shows estimated dates when the Roadster will be farthest from or nearest to Earth, Mars, and the sun.