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A High Level Look at Satellites

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A High Level Look at Satellites

A High Level Look at Satellites

View the full-size version of the first visualization to see in full detail.

Satellites rarely get much attention, but they’re the hubs that keep our modern world connected. Just how many satellites are orbiting around Earth? Who’s launching them? And, what exactly are they doing up there anyway? These are good questions. Let’s dig in.

Today’s visualization comes to us from Carey Spies, and while it is based on older data, it provides a useful breakdown of the types of satellites that orbit the Earth.

There are now nearly 1,500 satellites in orbit in 2017, and if SpaceX’s plans for a 4,425-satellite communications network come to fruition, our planet’s exosphere will become even more crowded.

What do satellites actually do?

Satellites are launched into space for a number of reasons.

They do everything from military reconnaissance to keeping our GPS systems working properly. The truly global scope of telecommunications wouldn’t be possible without our expansive network of orbiting satellites. For example, O3b Networks’ 12 satellites provide broadband internet service to emerging markets.

Types of Satellites

Who’s launching satellites?

The United States, with nearly 600 operating satellites, has clearly won the space race in this sense. That said, everyone from Azerbaijan to Vietnam now has equipment in orbit, and the list keeps growing.

The change over time, seen in this interactive map, shows that now practically everyone is in the game:

Launching rockets used to be the sole domain of nations, but the privatization of spaceflight has dramatically increased the number of commercial satellites in orbit. Iridium Communications, for example, has a constellation of 70+ operational satellites.

Anxiety in the Exosphere

Operating satellites are only one part of the equation. Sputnik I was launched into space nearly 60 years ago, and as one might guess, a lot of obsolete and dead equipment has built up over that time. The United States Space Surveillance Network estimates that there are 21,000 objects larger than 10cm orbiting the Earth. An increase in “space junk” could have major implications, as even tiny objects can cause severe damage to equipment.

We must cooperate now to guarantee economically vital spaceflight.

– Brigitte Zypries, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy

Another looming issue is the potential weaponization of space. Until now, nations have operated under the “gentlemen’s agreement” that nothing launched into space should be weaponized, but the U.S., China, and Russia have all been accused of taking steps towards putting destructive objects into orbit. Beyond the obvious implications of conflict in space, damaged satellites would also exacerbate the aforementioned “space junk” problem.

What’s on the Horizon

While companies like SpaceX are looking for ways to reduce the overall cost of launching rockets into space, other innovations may also make it easier than ever to put structures into orbit. The Archinaut Program – which received $20 million in funding from NASA – is looking at ways to manufacture and assemble structures in space.

One thing is for certain; space is about to get a whole lot more crowded.

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Data Visualization

Ranking the Top 100 Websites in the World

The top 100 websites ranking reveals how people around the world search for information, which services they use, and how they spend time online.

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As a greater portion of the world begins to live more of their life online, the world’s top 100 websites continue to see explosive growth in their traffic numbers.

To claim even the 100th spot in this ranking, your website would need around 350 million visits in a single month. Using data from SimilarWeb, we’ve visually mapped out the top 100 biggest websites on the internet. Examining the ranking reveals a lot about how people around the world search for information, which services they use, and how they spend time online.

Note: This is a ranking of biggest websites, specifically. Brands that extend across platforms or serve the majority of their users through an app will not necessarily rank well on this list. As a result, you’ll notice the absence of companies like WeChat and Snapchat.

The Top 100 Websites

The 100 biggest websites generated a staggering 206 billion visits in June 2019. Google, YouTube, and Facebook took the top spots, followed by Baidu and Wikipedia. Below is the full ranking:

Global RankDomainMonthly visits (billions)ParentCountry
1Google.com60.49Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
2Youtube.com 24.31Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
3Facebook.com19.98Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
4Baidu.com9.77Baidu, Inc🇨🇳 China
5Wikipedia.org4.69Wikimedia Foundation🇺🇸 United States
6Twitter.com3.92Twitter, Inc🇺🇸 United States
7Yahoo.com3.74Verizon Comm. Inc🇺🇸 United States
8pornhub.com3.36Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
9Instagram.com3.21Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
10xvideos.com3.19WGCZ Holding🇨🇿 Czech Republic
11yandex.ru3.06Yandex🇷🇺 Russia
12ampproject.org2.76N/A🇺🇸 United States
13xnxx.com2.47WGCZ Holding🇨🇿 Czech Republic
14amazon.com2.41Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
15live.com2.25Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
16vk.com2.16Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
17netflix.com1.81Netflix, Inc🇺🇸 United States
18qq.com1.76Tencent🇨🇳 China
19whatsapp.com1.76Facebook, Inc🇺🇸 United States
20mail.ru1.64Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
21Reddit.com1.55Advance Publications🇺🇸 United States
22yahoo.co.jp1.5Verizon Comm. Inc🇯🇵 Japan
23google.com.br1.38Alphabet Inc🇧🇷 Brazil
24bing.com1.32Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
25ok.ru1.08Mail.ru Group🇷🇺 Russia
26xhamster.com1.06Hammy Media Ltd🇨🇾 Cyprus
27sogou.com1Tencent, Sohu Inc🇨🇳 China
28ebay.com0.95eBay Inc🇺🇸 United States
29bit.ly0.95Spectrum Equity🇺🇸 United States
30twitch.tv0.91Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
31linkedin.com0.91Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
32samsung.com0.89Samsung Group🇰🇷 South Korea
33sm.cn0.81Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
34msn.com0.8Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
35office.com0.79Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
36globo.com0.74Grupo Globo🇧🇷 Brazil
37taobao.com0.74Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
38pinterest.com0.74Pinterest, Inc🇺🇸 United States
39google.de0.73Alphabet Inc🇩🇪 Germany
40Microsoft.com0.72Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
41accuweather.com0.71AccuWeather Inc🇺🇸 United States
42naver.com0.64Naver Corporation🇰🇷 South Korea
43aliexpress.com0.64Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
44fandom.com0.61Wikia Inc🇺🇸 United States
45quora.com0.58Quora Inc🇺🇸 United States
46github.com0.57Microsoft Corporation🇺🇸 United States
47imdb.com0.57Amazon.com, Inc🇺🇸 United States
48uol.com.br0.56Grupo Folha🇧🇷 Brazil
49docomo.ne.jp0.56Tata Teleservices🇯🇵 Japan
50youporn.com0.55Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
51bbc.co.uk0.55Public owned🇬🇧 United Kingdom
52microsoftonline.com0.55Unknown🏴 Unknown
53paypal.com0.53Paypal🇺🇸 United States
54google.fr0.53Alphabet Inc🇫🇷 France
55yidianzixun.com0.51Particle Inc🇨🇳 China
56wordpress.com0.51Automattic🇺🇸 United States
57news.google.com0.51Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
58sohu.com0.51Sohu🇨🇳 China
59duckduckgo.com0.51Duck Duck Go, Inc🇺🇸 United States
60google.co.uk0.51Alphabet Inc🇬🇧 United Kingdom
6110086.cn0.5China Mobile🇨🇳 China
62iqiyi.com0.5Baidu, Inc🇨🇳 China
63booking.com0.5Booking Holdings🇺🇸 United States
64amazon.co.jp0.49Amazon.com, Inc🇯🇵 Japan
65cricbuzz.com0.49Times Internet🇮🇳 India
66taboola.com0.48Taboola Inc🇺🇸 United States
67amazon.de0.48Amazon.com, Inc🇩🇪 Germany
68cnn.com0.47Turner Broadcasting🇺🇸 United States
69jd.com0.47Various (Tencent 20%)🇨🇳 China
70apple.com0.47Apple Inc🇺🇸 United States
71google.it0.45Alphabet Inc🇮🇹 Italy
72bilibili.com0.44Bilibili Inc🇨🇳 China
73google.co.jp0.44Alphabet Inc🇯🇵 Japan
74livejasmin.com0.44Docler Group🇱🇺 Luxembourg
75tmall.com0.44Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
76news.yahoo.co.jp0.44Verizon Comm. Inc🇯🇵 Japan
77youtu.be0.44Alphabet Inc🇺🇸 United States
78tribunnews.com0.43Kompas Gramedia Group🇮🇩 Indonesia
79amazon.co.uk0.43Amazon.com, Inc🇬🇧 United Kingdom
80chaturbate.com0.43Multi Media LLC🇺🇸 United States
81google.co.in0.41Alphabet Inc🇮🇳 India
82craigslist.org0.41Craigslist🇺🇸 United States
83imgur.com0.41Imgur Inc🇺🇸 United States
84bbc.com0.41Public owned🇬🇧 United Kingdom
85fc2.com0.39FC2, Inc🇺🇸 United States
86tsyndicate.com0.39Unknown🏴 Unknown
87redtube.com0.38Mindgeek🇨🇦 Canada
88tumblr.com0.37Verizon🇺🇸 United States
89foxnews.com0.36Fox Corporation🇺🇸 United States
90rakuten.co.jp0.36Rakuten Inc🇯🇵 Japan
91google.es0.36Alphabet Inc🇪🇸 Spain
92outbrain.com0.36Outbrain Inc🇺🇸 United States
93discordapp.com0.36Various🇺🇸 United States
94amazon.in0.35Amazon.com, Inc🇮🇳 India
95crptgate.com0.34Unknown🏴 Unknown
96weather.com0.34Landmark Media Enterprises, LLC🇺🇸 United States
97toutiao.com0.34Bytedance🇨🇳 China
98youku.com0.34Alibaba Group🇨🇳 China
99adobe.com0.34Adobe Inc🇺🇸 United States
100news.yandex.ru0.33Yandex🇷🇺 Russia

Search Reigns Supreme

Search engines provide the connective tissue that binds the internet together, and they accounted for the majority of website traffic in the top 100 ranking.

Google is the undisputed top website in nearly every country in the world. In fact, Alphabet’s 11 domains in the top 100 ranking – including YouTube and a number of international versions of Google – racked up an impressive 90 billion visits in a single month.

Exceptions to Google’s dominance can be found in China (Baidu) and Russia (Yandex), where homegrown search engines have managed to capture the domestic market.

One scrappy competitor, DuckDuckGo, is slowly gaining prominence as an alternative to Google. The search engine’s focus on user privacy appears to be resonating with internet users as the site’s traffic has surpassed 500 million visits per month.

Full Stream Ahead

Video streaming and sharing is another major driver of global internet traffic.

Thanks to high-powered phones and bigger data plans, video is now a prominent portion of internet content consumption. This can take a few forms, from binge watching TV shows on Netflix to short-form video uploads on platforms like Douyin and Instagram.

Live streaming is increasingly a bigger part of the mix. Twitch, which is focused on gaming, is now ranked 30th in the world in web traffic. The Amazon-owned platform is now so popular that on any given night, its viewership surpasses many of the major U.S. cable networks.

Hours watched on Twitch

Of course, this category also includes adult content, which is well represented in this ranking. XNXX, XVideos, and PornHub all made the top 20, and the three websites combined for over nine billion visits in the most recent month of data available.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

Classic web portals such as MSN and Yahoo are still putting up impressive traffic numbers, but major players are increasingly staying relevant by acquiring rising internet stars.

In the case of Microsoft, acquiring Github and Linkedin helped the company target new markets and grow their overall presence online. Amazon’s acquisition of Twitch proved to be a good bet, and Instagram continues to breathe new life into Facebook, which has seen a backlash focused on its original namesake social network.

Google isn’t sitting still either. The company recently championed the open-source AMP Project to help improve the performance of mobile pages, which are increasingly bogged down by adware, unoptimized images, and JavaScript. In a short amount of time, the AMP Project has taken off to become one of the biggest websites in the world.

The project is not without controversy though.

Critics point out that cached AMP pages – which are hosted by Google – essentially cut out content creators, and that non-compliant pages may lose their ranking on mobile search results. As the project moves towards becoming a foundation, it remains to be seen how AMP will evolve and how much involvement Google will have in the future.

The Geography of the Top 100 Websites

The internet may be a global network, but many of the gatekeepers are still located in the United States. If international domain suffixes of companies like Amazon and Google are counted, 60 of the 100 websites in the ranking are American.

Below is a breakdown of the Top 100 by country.

Top 100 Websites Ranking by Country

China is a strong runner-up, with 15 websites in the Top 100. While most of these Chinese companies are focused on the sizable domestic market, some are also making global inroads through investment. Tencent has partially backed the fast-growing chat platform, Discord, and it also has double-digit stakes in Snapchat and Spotify.

With the exception of Baidu, all of the biggest websites in the world have swelled in size by serving a global audience. As the tech market continues to mature in China, it remains to be seen whether Chinese companies can successfully move beyond the firewall to become the next Facebook or Google.

Correction: Bilibili, a website run by a Chinese company, was incorrectly identified as a Japanese company.

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Data Visualization

Visualized: The Mass of the Entire Solar System

This interactive data visualization illustrates how the different planetary objects in our solar system compare based on their individual masses.

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Visualized: The Mass of the Entire Solar System

In space, everything feels weightless due to the lack of gravity.

So how do you measure the weight of objects in space? You don’t. When it comes to the cosmos, all that matters is mass.

Today’s interactive data visualization comes from Reddit user Ranger-UK, and is designed by Daniel Caroli. It delves into the different masses which make up our solar system, and how they all compare in size.

A Star Is Born

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Sun eclipses all other nearby objects by mass. At the heart of our solar system, this yellow dwarf’s gravity is what holds it all together.

The Sun actually makes up 99.8% of our entire solar system’s mass — and we’re lucky to be living in the other 0.2%. Responsible for all life on Earth, it’s no wonder that various cultures have worshiped the Sun throughout history, and even dedicated deities to it.

Currently in its middle years — the sun is over four billion years old, and it’s predicted to remain stable for another five billion years. After this, it will overtake the orbits of Mercury and Venus and then shrink back to the size of a white dwarf.

Out Of This World

The gas giants are all more than ten times as massive as Earth, even though they’re mainly made up of hydrogen and helium. They dominate the Solar System’s real estate — once the Sun is taken out of the equation, of course.

In order, here’s how the planets stack up:

PlanetCategoryMassRadiusDensity
JupiterGas giant1,898,600 x 10²¹ kg69,911 ±6 km1.326g/cm³
SaturnGas giant568,460 x 10²¹ kg58,232 ±6 km (*without rings)0.687g/cm³
NeptuneGas giant102,430 x 10²¹ kg24,622 ±19 km1.638g/cm³
UranusGas giant86,832 x 10²¹ kg25,362 ±7 km1.27g/cm³
EarthTerrestrial planet5,974 x 10²¹ kg6.371 ±0.01 km5.514g/cm³
VenusTerrestrial planet4,869 x 10²¹ kg6,051.8 ±1 km (*without gas)5.243g/cm³
MarsTerrestrial planet642 x 10²¹ kg3,389.5 ±0.2 km3.9335g/cm³
MercuryTerrestrial planet330 x 10²¹ kg2,439.7 ±1 km5.427g/cm³

Satellites Out of Control

The further away from the Sun you go, the more moons can be found orbiting planets. Earth’s singular moon is the fifth largest of almost 200 natural satellites found in the solar system.

Mars has two moons that don’t make it into the visualization above due to their low masses:

  • Phobos: 1.08×10^16 kg
  • Deimos: 2.0×10^15 kg

Here’s a breakdown of some other moons out there:

  • Jupiter
    Total named: 53
    Biggest moons: Ganymede, Callisto, Io, Europa
    These four can be seen easily with some help from binoculars.
  • Saturn
    Total named: 53
    Biggest moons: Titan, Rhea, Iapetus, Dione, and Tethys
  • Uranus
    Total named: 27
    Biggest moons: Titania, Oberon, Ariel, Umbriel
  • Neptune
    Total named: 14
    Biggest moon: Triton, which is as big as the dwarf planet Pluto.

Pluto and some “leftovers” of the solar system lie in the distant region of the doughnut-shaped Kuiper belt, between 30 to 50 astronomical units (AU) away. Beginning at the orbit of Neptune, the belt encompasses some of those objects in the visualization categorized as “other”.

So far, we’ve only managed to set foot on our own moon. NASA’s Opportunity rover helped us explore the Red Planet virtually for over 14 years, while the Curiosity is still going strong.

Who knows what else lurks beyond the edges of our solar system?

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth… I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.

— Neil Armstrong, looking back at the Earth from the Moon (July 1969)

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