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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Planet||Rotation Periods (relative to stars)|
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:
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.
Soaking up the Sun: Visualizing the Changing Patterns of Daylight in One Year
The length of your days can change depending on the seasons, and where you are on Earth. Watch how these patterns unfold over a year.
The darkest days are upon the residents of the Northern Hemisphere as daylight dwindles and the night lingers longer. Meanwhile, those in the Southern Hemisphere bask in their warmest and longest days—and those at the Equator continue to observe consistent days and nights.
These changing lengths of days and nights depend on where you are on Earth and the time of year. The tilt of the Earth’s axis and its path around the sun affect the number of daylight hours.
Today’s post highlights two simple and elegant animations that help demonstrate how different latitudes experience the sun’s light over the course of one year. The first comes from Reddit user harplass, while the second comes from data scientist Neil Kaye.
Longer and Shorter Days
The Ancient Greeks envisioned the movement of the sun as a Titan named Helios who rode across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot, illuminating the known world below. A rosy-fingered dawn would herald his imminent arrival, while the arrival of the dusk god Astraeus, ever on Helios’ heels, marked the passage of day into night.
Today, time is not at the whims of Greek mythology but by the measurable and consistent movement of celestial bodies. A day on Earth is 24 hours long, but not every day has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. The actual time of one Earth rotation is a little shorter–about 23 hours and 56 minutes.
Daytime is shorter in winter than in summer, for each hemisphere. This is because the Earth’s imaginary axis isn’t straight up and down, it is tilted 23.5 degrees. The Earth’s movement around this axis causes the change between day and night.
During summer in the Northern Hemisphere, daylight hours increase the farther north you go. The Arctic gets very little darkness at night. The seasonal changes in daylight hours are small near the Equator and more extreme close to the poles.
Length of a Rotation: Equinoxes and Solstices
There are four events that mark the passing stages of the sun, equinoxes and solstices.
The two solstices happen June 20 or 21 and December 21 or 22. These are the days when the sun’s path in the sky is the farthest north or south from the Equator. A hemisphere’s winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the summer solstice the year’s longest.
In the Northern Hemisphere the June solstice marks the start of summer: this is when the North Pole is tilted closest to the sun, and the sun’s rays are directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer.
The December solstice marks the start of winter when the South Pole is tilted closest to the sun, and the sun’s rays are directly overhead the Tropic of Capricorn.
The equinoxes happen around March 21 and September 23. These are the days when the sun is exactly above the Equator, which makes day and night of equal length.
Stand in the Place Where You Are
It is always darkest before the dawn, and every passing of solstice marks a time of change. As the Northern Hemisphere heads into the winter holiday season, it also marks the advent of longer days and the inevitable spring and summer.
The lengths of days and nights are constantly changing, but every one will get their time in the sun, at some point.
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