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.
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.
Visualizing the Speed of Light (Fast, but Slow)
In our every day lives, light is instantaneous – but in the context of our solar system and beyond, light is surprisingly slow.
Visualizing the Speed of Light
With the flip of a switch, your room can be instantenously flooded with brightness.
In fact, there is no noticeable lag effect at all.
That’s because emitted photons travel at 186,000 miles (300,000 km) per second, meaning it takes only 1/500,000th of a second for light to reach even the furthest part of an ordinary room. And, if it could go through the wall, it would orbit the entire planet 7.5 times in just one second.
Light Speed is Fast…
In our every day experiences, we never see light as having to “take time” to do anything. It’s inconceivably fast, brightening up everything in its path in an instant — and with a few odd caveats, scientists believe light speed to be the fastest-known achievable pace in the universe.
But what if we get out of our bubble, and look at light from outside the confines of life on Earth?
Today’s animation, which comes from planetary scientist Dr. James O’Donoghue, helps visualize the speed of light in a broader context. It helps remind us of the mechanics of this incredible phenomenon, while also highlighting the vast distances between celestial bodies — even in our small and insignificant corner of the solar system.
Light Speed is Slow…
Once a photon is sent into the vast abyss, suddenly the fastest possible speed seems somewhat pedestrian.
- Moon: It takes about 1.255 seconds for light to get from Earth to the moon.
- Mars: Mars is about 150x further than the moon — about 40 million miles (54.6 million km) in the closest approach — so it takes 3 minutes to get there from Earth.
- Sun: The sun is 93 million miles (150 million km) away, meaning it takes 8 minutes to see its light.
Let that sink in for a moment: the sun could explode right now, and we wouldn’t even know about it for eight long minutes.
Going Further, Taking Longer
If it takes light a few minutes to get to the closest planets, how long does it take for light to travel further away from Earth?
- Jupiter: The largest planet is 629 million km away when it’s closest, taking light about 35 minutes.
- Saturn: The ringed planet is about as twice as far as Jupiter, taking light 71 minutes.
- Pluto: It takes about 5.5 hours for light to go from Earth to the dwarf planet.
- Alpha Centauri: The nearest star system is 4.3 light years away, or 25 trillion miles (40 trillion km).
- Visible stars: The average distance to the 300 brightest stars in the sky is about 347 light years.
If you really want to get the feeling of how “slow” light really is, watch the below video and journey from the sun to Jupiter. It’s done in real-time, so it takes about 43 minutes:
So while light obviously travels at a ludicrous speed, it really depends on your vantage point.
On Earth, light is instantaneous – but anywhere else in the universe, it’s pretty inadequate for getting anywhere far (especially in contrast to the average human lifespan).
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