Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by Will Hagle
Buckle up and ride a rocket through the BBC’s interactive view of the Solar System to explore our cosmic neighborhood.
It’s no secret that the vastness of outer space is immense. In order to demonstrate the incredible distances from Earth’s ground level to various locations in outer space, the BBC has created a well-designed and informative interactive website. The site consists of a cartoon depiction of a spaceship. As you scroll downwards, the rocket “takes off.” As the scenery changes, new information is displayed regarding the surrounding area. The site details a variety of information, including the height of Mount Everest (8.9 km) and the start of the stratosphere (near the cruising height of a commercial aircraft). Scrolling through the interactive webpage makes it much easier to understand the relative distance between objects as well as other more abstract concepts. The site was also made to scale, and one pixel accounts for a specific amount of kilometers depending on how far away from Earth you voyage.
BBC’s How Big Is Space also displays information about previous efforts at exploring different layers of the atmosphere. It explains that the “Legonaut,” for instance, was a Lego man that was launched by two Canadian teenagers in January 2012. That Lego figurine ultimately reached a height of 24 km, higher than the height Chuck Yeager reached in the world’s first supersonic aircraft (which was at 22 km). The site also demonstrates how the height at which daredevil Felix Baumgartner skydived from in 2012 (39 km) is extremely close to the highest height that still contains living organisms (“low concentrations of microbes and spore-forming bacteria” can be found at 41 km above Earth). There’s a huge amount of equally interesting, and well-presented information compiled on the site, leading up to the Voyager 1 Probe, the farthest man-made object from Earth. It was launched in 1977 and is currently 19,000,000,000 km from Earth. That’s where it stops because, according to the site’s information, “it would take 23 million years of continuous scrolling on this scale to get to the farthest regions of the observable universe.” Yes, outer space is huge.