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Visualized: The Race to Invest in the Space Economy

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The Race to Invest in the Space Economy

Humans in Space

Visualized: The Race to Invest in the Space Economy

Humans have long viewed outer space as the final frontier.

Our thirst for exploration has brought whole nations together to create more advanced technologies─all in the pursuit of discovering the outer reaches of the universe.

Today’s infographic from ProcureAM highlights the exciting journey humans have taken into outer space, and the economic boom across industries as a result of this quest for discovery.

With an ever-expanding universe, how far have we gone?

Our Connection with Outer Space

Humans have been fascinated with space for millennia, using the planets and stars to navigate, keep time, and discover scientific facts about the universe.

Since the 1960s, humans have also been traveling into space and pushing the limits of our technological and physical boundaries with each excursion.

A Brief History: Humans in Space

  • 1957 ─ First satellite launched: Sputnik1
  • 1961 ─ First human in space: Yuri Gagarin
  • 1965 ─ First human spacewalk: Aleksei Leonov
  • 1969 ─ First human on the Moon: Neil Armstrong
  • 1984 ─ First untethered spacewalk: Bruce McCandless
  • 1998 ─ First modules launch to begin construction of the International Space Station

Nations around the world have used these trips and technological milestones to drastically improve life.

Reusable rockets and advanced satellite technology enable greater innovation on Earth through higher-quality broadband internet, 5G cellular networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.

The Space Economy is Ready for Lift-off

Three major sectors are dominating the global space economy today:

  • Products and Services
    This sector drives the majority of commercial activity in the space industry. These products and services meet specific needs in telecommunications, location-based services, and monitoring and observation.
  • Infrastructure
    Production of space vehicles such as rockets and rovers, ground and space stations, and receivers such as satellites, receivers, and terminals for internet and TV are also booming. As the global population grows, our need to stay connected to each other evolves.
  • Government
    Most modern government space agencies are actively monitoring and tracking space to offer better resources and services for their citizens, including geopolitical monitoring and missile tracking.

Can lower costs, new technology, and increased commercial activity make space the next trillion-dollar industry?

The Next Frontier: Investing in Space

Investments in space-related industries have shot up in recent years, rising from US$1.1 billion in 2000-2005 up to $10.2 billion between 2012-2018.

This meteoric growth is due to fewer barriers in the space industry, which was previously restricted to governments or the ultra-wealthy. Private sector companies are responsible for much of the growth. Since 2000, Goldman Sachs estimates that $13.3 billion has been invested into newly launched space startups.

These companies, backed by titans such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, are pledging to support innovations from the practical to the fantastical, to boldly go where none have gone before:

  • SpaceX ─ powerful satellite Internet service
  • Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources ─ first commercial mines in space
  • DoubleTree Hilton ─ first company to bake cookies in space
  • Blue Origin ─ deep-space exploration

And with recent technological advancements, these goals are edging closer to reality.

For example, take space tourism. While costs are still astronomical, Blue Origin and Virgin Atlantic are banking on the idea of the first space vacations taking place as early as 2020─and growing in popularity from there.

  • Dennis Tito paid $20 million to become the first space tourist in 2001
  • Prepaid tickets for 90-min suborbital flights in 2020 with Virgin Galactic are going for $250,000

The Future of the Space Economy

Advances in satellite and rocket technology mean that costs are declining across the entire commercial space economy.

Because of this, the global space industry may jump light years ahead in the next few decades.

For the first time since our journey to the stars began, the final frontier is well within our grasp.

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Misc

A Map of Every Object in Our Solar System

Our solar system is a surprisingly crowded place. This incredible map shows the 18,000 asteroids, comets, planets and moons orbiting the Sun.

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A Map of Every Object in Our Solar System

View the high resolution version of this incredible map by clicking here

The path through the solar system is a rocky road.

Asteroids, comets, planets and moons and all kinds of small bodies of rock, metals, minerals and ice are continually moving as they orbit the sun. In contrast to the simple diagrams we’re used to seeing, our solar system is a surprisingly crowded place.

In this stunning visualization, biologist Eleanor Lutz painstakingly mapped out every known object in Earth’s solar system (>10km in diameter), hopefully helping you on your next journey through space.

Data-Driven Solar System

This particular visualization combines five different data sets from NASA:

Objects in solar system

Source: Tabletop Whale

From this data, Lutz mapped all the orbits of over 18,000 asteroids in the solar system, including 10,000 that were at least 10km in diameter, and about 8,000 objects of unknown size.

This map shows each asteroid’s position on New Year’s Eve 1999.

The Pull of Gravity

When plotting the objects, Lutz observed that the solar system is not arranged in linear distances. Rather, it is logarithmic, with exponentially more objects situated close to the sun. Lutz made use of this observation to space out their various orbits of the 18,000 objects in her map.

What she is visualizing is the pull of the sun, as the majority of objects tend to gravitate towards the inner part of the solar system. This is the same observation Sir Isaac Newton used to develop the concept of gravity, positing that heavier objects produce a bigger gravitational pull than lighter ones. Since the sun is the largest object in our solar system, it has the strongest gravitational pull.

If the sun is continually pulling at the planets, why don’t they all fall into the sun? It’s because the planets are moving sideways at the same time.

orbiting around the sun

Without that sideways motion, the objects would fall to the center – and without the pull toward the center, it would go flying off in a straight line.

This explains the clustering of patterns in solar systems, and why the farther you travel through the solar system, the bigger the distance and the fewer the objects.

The Top Ten Non-Planets in the Solar System

We all know that the sun and the planets are the largest objects in our corner of the universe, but there are many noteworthy objects as well.

RankNameDiameterNotes
1Ganymede3,273 mi (5,268 km)Jupiter's largest moon
2Titan3,200 mi (5,151 km)Saturn's largest moon
3Callisto2,996 mi (4,821 km)Jupiter's second largest moon
4Io2,264 mi (3,643 km)Moon orbiting Jupiter
5Moon2,159 mi (3,474 km)Earth's only moon
6Europa1,940 mi (3,122 km)Moon orbiting Jupiter
7Triton1,680 mi (2,710 km)Neptune's largest moon
8Pluto1,476 mi (2,376 km)Dwarf planet
9Eris1,473 mi (2,372 km)Dwarf planet
10Titania981 mi (1,578 km)Uranus' largest moon

Source: Ourplnt.com

While the map only shows objects greater than 10 kilometers in diameter, there are plenty of smaller objects to watch out for as well.

An Atlas of Space

This map is one among many of Lutz’s space related visualizations. She is also in the process of creating an Atlas of Space to showcase her work.

As we reach further and further beyond the boundaries of earth, her work may come in handy the next time you make a wrong turn at Mars and find yourself lost in an asteroid belt.

“I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque!”

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Environment

As the Worlds Turn: Visualizing the Rotation of Planets

Rotation can have a big influence on a planet’s habitability. These animations show how each planet in the solar system moves to its own distinct rhythm.

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As the Worlds Turn: Visualizing the Rotations of Planets

The rotation of planets have a dramatic effect on their potential habitability.

Dr. James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency who has the creative ability to visually communicate space concepts like the speed of light and the vastness of the solar system, recently animated a video showing cross sections of different planets spinning at their own pace on one giant globe.

Cosmic Moves: The Rotation of the Planets

Each planet in the solar system moves to its own rhythm. The giant gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) spin more rapidly on their axes than the inner planets. The sun itself rotates slowly, only once a month.

PlanetRotation Periods (relative to stars)
Mercury58d 16h
Venus243d 26m
Earth23h 56m
Mars24h 36m
Jupiter9h 55m
Saturn10h 33m
Uranus17h 14m
Neptune16h

The planets all revolve around the sun in the same direction and in virtually the same plane. In addition, they all rotate in the same general direction, with the exceptions of Venus and Uranus.

In the following animation, their respective rotation speeds are compared directly:

The most visually striking result of planetary spin is on Jupiter, which has the fastest rotation in the solar system. Massive storms of frozen ammonia grains whip across the surface of the gas giant at speeds of 340 miles (550 km) per hour.

Interestingly, the patterns of each planet’s rotation can help in revealing whether they can support life or not.

Rotation and Habitability

As a fish in water is not aware it is wet, so it goes for humans and the atmosphere around us.

New research reveals that the rate at which a planet spins is an essential component for supporting life. Not only does rotation control the length of day and night, bit it influences atmospheric wind patterns and the formation of clouds.

The radiation the Earth receives from the Sun concentrates at the equator. The Sun heats the air in this region until it rises up through the atmosphere and moves towards the poles of the planet where it cools. This cool air falls through the atmosphere and flows back towards the equator.

This process is known as a Hadley cell, and atmospheres can have multiple cells:

Hadley Cells

A planet with a quick rotation forms Hadley cells at low latitudes into different bands that encircle the planet. Clouds become prominent at tropical regions, which reflect a proportion of the light back into space.

For a planet in a tighter orbit around its star, the radiation received from the star is much more extreme. This decreases the temperature difference between the equator and the poles, ultimately weakening Hadley cells. The result is fewer clouds in tropical regions available to protect the planet from intense heat, making the planet uninhabitable.

Slow Rotators: More Habitable

If a planet rotates slower, then the Hadley cells can expand to encircle the entire world. This is because the difference in temperature between the day and night side of the planet creates larger atmospheric circulation.

Slow rotation makes days and nights longer, such that half of the planet bathes in light from the sun for an extended period of time. Simultaneously, the night side of the planet is able to cool down.

This difference in temperature is large enough to cause the warm air from the day side to flow to the night side. This movement of air allows more clouds to form around a planet’s equator, protecting the surface from harmful space radiation, encouraging the possibility for the right conditions for life to form.

The Hunt for Habitable Planets

Measuring the rotation of planets is difficult with a telescope, so another good proxy would be to measure the level of heat emitted from a planet.

An infrared telescope can measure the heat emitted from a planet’s clouds that formed over its equator. An unusually low temperature at the hottest location on the planet could indicate that the planet is potentially a habitable slow rotator.

Of course, even if a planet’s rotation speed is just right, many other conditions come into play. The rotation of planets is just another piece in the puzzle in identifying the next Earth.

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