Comparing Objects in Our Solar System by Rotation, Size, and More
Comparison of Selected Objects in our Solar System
Our solar system is home to various celestial objects, including planets, moons, asteroids, and even dwarf planets.
All of these objects differ in many ways, yet work in perfect unison. A comparative study of the various features of these celestial bodies gives us some fascinating results.
The above animation from planetary scientist Dr. James O’Donoghue helps put in perspective the different objects in the solar system in terms of size, rotational speed, and the axial tilt at which they rotate.
Selected Solar System Objects to Scale
With such a diverse solar system of planets and other celestial objects, there is no shortage of questions to think about. Like what is the exact diameter of Jupiter, or how fast does Pluto rotate?
To answer them, here is a comparison of some select celestial bodies in our solar system, going from the biggest to smallest objects:
|Celestial Body||Diameter (km)||Rotational Period (Hours)||Axial Tilt|
Planets like Venus or Pluto rotate in the opposite direction to Earth, or in retrograde, and thus are denoted with a negative symbol before their values.
Another interesting observation is that the Sun rotates on its axis only once in about 27 days and has an axial tilt of about 7.25 degrees from the axis of Earth’s orbit. Hence, we see more of the Sun’s north pole in September of each year and the south pole in March.
How do the Various Objects Compare Against Earth?
The Earth we live on is a unique planet within our solar system containing water and air, and is where living things thrive. But, aside from those surface level differences, is our home really different from other planets and celestial objects?
In the table below, we compare other nearby celestial bodies with Earth, using ratios—this time, from smallest to largest:
|Celestial Body||Diameter (ratio to Earth)||Rotational Period (ratio to Earth)|
Though Jupiter is around 11 times wider than Earth, its rotational period is only 0.4 times as long as our planet’s—meaning it rotates at a much faster speed.
On the other hand, Venus uses a slow and steady approach, taking 244 times longer to make one rotation (in comparison to background stars) when contrasted to Earth.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
All of the World’s Spaceports on One Map
This map is a comprehensive look at both existing and proposed spaceports and missile launching locations around the world.
Mapped: The World’s Rocket Launch Sites
From Sputnik 1 to today’s massive satellite constellations, every object in space was launched from just a handful of locations.
The map above, from BryceTech, is a comprehensive look at the world’s spaceports (both orbital and sub-orbital) as well as ballistic missile test sites.
The World’s Major Spaceports
Though the graphic above is a detailed list of many types of rocket launch sites, we’ll focus on major sites that are sending satellites and passengers into sub-orbit, orbit, and beyond.
|Cape Canaveral Space Force Station||Florida||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Cape Canaveral Spaceport||Florida||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Kennedy Space Center||Florida||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Cecil Field Spaceport||Florida||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Colorado Air & Space Port||Colorado||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Vandenberg Air Force Base||California||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Mojave Air and Space Port||California||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Oklahoma Air & Space Port||Oklahoma||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Poker Flat Research Range||Alaska||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Pacific Spaceport Complex||Alaska||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Spaceport America||New Mexico||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Launch Site One (Corn Ranch)||Texas||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Houston Spaceport||Texas||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Midland Air & Space Port||Texas||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|SpaceX Development and Test Facility||Texas||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|SpaceX Starbase||Texas||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Spaceport Camden||Georgia||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport||Virginia||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Wallops Flight Facility||Virginia||🇺🇸 U.S.|
|Reagan Test Site||Kwajalein Atoll||🇲🇭 Marshall Islands|
|Naro Space Center||Outer Naro Island||🇰🇷 South Korea|
|Sohae Satellite Launching Station||North Pyongan Province||🇰🇵 North Korea|
|Kapustin Yar||Astrakhan Oblast||🇷🇺 Russia|
|Plesetsk Cosmodrome||Arkhangelsk Oblast||🇷🇺 Russia|
|Vostochny Cosmodrome||Amur Oblast||🇷🇺 Russia|
|Yasny Launch Base||Orenburg Oblast||🇷🇺 Russia|
|Arnhem Space Centre||Northern Territory||🇦🇺 Australia|
|Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex||South Australia||🇦🇺 Australia|
|Koonibba Test Range||South Australia||🇦🇺 Australia|
|Bowen Orbital Spaceport||Queensland||🇦🇺 Australia|
|Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1||Wairoa District||🇳🇿 New Zealand|
|Baikonur Cosmodrome||Baikonur||🇰🇿 Kazakhstan|
|Space Port Oita||Ōita||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Tanegashima Space Center||Kagoshima||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Uchinoura Space Center||Kagoshima||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Taiki Aerospace Research Field||Hokkaido||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Hokkaido Spaceport||Hokkaido||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Ryori Launch Site||Iwate||🇯🇵 Japan|
|Sonmiani Satellite Launch Center||Balochistan||🇵🇰 Pakistan|
|Integrated Test Range||Odisha||🇮🇳 India|
|Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station||Kerala||🇮🇳 India|
|Satish Dhawan Space Centre||Sriharikota||🇮🇳 India|
|Guiana Space Centre||Kourou||🇬🇫 French Guiana|
|Barreira do Inferno Launch Center||Rio Grande do Norte||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|Alcântara Space Center||Maranhão||🇧🇷 Brazil|
|Stasiun Peluncuran Roket||West Java||🇮🇩 Indonesia|
|Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center||Gansu Province||🇨🇳 China|
|Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center||Shanxi Province||🇨🇳 China|
|Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site||Hainan Province||🇨🇳 China|
|Xichang Satellite Launch Center||Sichuan Province||🇨🇳 China|
|Palmachim Airbase||Central District||🇮🇱 Israel|
|Imam Khomeini Space Launch Terminal||Semnan||🇮🇷 Iran|
|Qom Lauch Facility||Qom||🇮🇷 Iran|
|El Arenosillo Test Centre||Huelva||🇪🇸 Spain|
|Spaceport Sweden||Lapland||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|Esrange Space Center||Lapland||🇸🇪 Sweden|
|Andøya Space||Nordland||🇳🇴 Norway|
|SaxaVord Spaceport||Shetland Islands||🇬🇧 UK|
|Sutherland Spaceport||Sutherland||🇬🇧 UK|
|Western Isles Spaceport||Outer Hebrides||🇬🇧 UK|
|Spaceport Machrihanish||Campbeltown||🇬🇧 UK|
|Prestwick Spaceport||Glasgow||🇬🇧 UK|
|Snowdonia Spaceport||North West Wales||🇬🇧 UK|
|Spaceport Cornwall||Cornwall||🇬🇧 UK|
|Orbex LP1||Moray||🇬🇧 UK|
|Spaceport Nova Scotia||Nova Scotia||🇨🇦 Canada|
Editor’s note: The above table includes all sites that are operational, as well as under construction, as of publishing date.
The list above covers fixed locations, and does not include SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ships. There are currently three active drone ships—one based near Los Angeles, and the other two based at Port Canaveral, Florida.
Two of the most famous launch sites on the list are the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) and Cape Canaveral (United States). The former was constructed as the base of operations for the Soviet space program and was the launch point for Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The latter was NASA’s primary base of operations and the first lunar-landing flight was launched from there in 1969.
The global roster of spaceports has grown immensely since Baikonur and Cape Canaveral were the only game in town. Now numerous countries have the ability to launch satellites, and many more are getting in on the action.
Wenchang Space Launch Site, on the island of Hainan, is China’s newest launch location. The site recorded its first successful launch in 2016.
One interesting quirk of the map above is the lack of spaceports in Europe. Europe’s ambitions for space are actually launched from the Guiana Space Centre in South America. Europe’s Spaceport has been operating in French Guiana since 1968.
Low altitude launch locations near the equator are the most desirable, as far less energy is required to take a spacecraft from surface level to an equatorial, geostationary orbit.
Islands and coastal areas are also common locations for launch sites. Since the open waters aren’t inhabited, there is minimal risk of harm from debris in the event of a launch failure.
As demand for satellites and space exploration grows, the number of launch locations will continue to grow as well.
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