Ever wanted to know more about all of that machinery orbiting Earth? With this wild little interactive map, now you can.
As the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018 is introduced into Parliament this week, here’s a fun to way to reflect on the amount of space activity that humankind has generated.
Esri’s Prototype Lab in California has produced a pretty amazing interactive visualisation of the man-made devices orbiting Earth — and it contains some fascinating insights about the objects we’ve flung into space.
The app is driven by data sourced from Space-Track.org, which is maintained by the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, and allows you to play with over 16,500 satellites — and note that a ‘satellite’ in this context includes satellite ephemera.
You’ll learn fairly quickly by selecting the ‘Junk/Not Junk’ filter that almost three quarters of man-made objects orbiting Earth are ‘space junk’ — such as spent rocket boosters and floating debris from satellite collisions.
The app features a pleasing number of options for exploring this sea of space paraphenalia — you can filter by orbit type, satellite size, launch date, orbit period, inclination, country of origin and even constellation — GPS, GLONASS, DigitalGlobe, LandSat and Inmarsat are all represented.
You can drill down on each individual satellite for a detailed view, and chase space junk of interest up further with links to the NASA and NY20 registries.
Explore the satellites at the embed below, or go deep with the full screen version.