A car floats in space. At the wheel is a spacesuit, seatbelt on. Earth hangs behind it.
The two objects don’t work together. The image jars like bad Photoshop. But it is real.
The photograph was beamed down to Earth courtesy of Elon Musk’s ego, bravado and taste for the absurd. It is human folly and genius rolled into one, a picture that sums up 2018 so far.
Life on Earth feels precarious, so we look to the stars. So how did we get here: the heavens navigated by a dummy astronaut in an electric car, with a handy note for aliens – “Made on Earth by humans” – imprinted on the circuit board?
Even Musk, engineer of the circus show, was surprised that his audacious stunt worked. “Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he tweeted. His plan is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster – with the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers – to cruise through high-energy radiation belts that circuit Earth towards deep space.