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Tag Archives: Earth

27 Photos That Will Make You Understand Earth’s Place In The Universe

We are so entrenched in the bubbles of our social lives that sometimes we forget how insignificant some of the things are when put against the whole image. And while for some people this realization might be comforting, that a spilled coffee, a lost job or a loss of a relationship is just such a small fraction of things happening in the universe, for others the thought can be absolutely terrifying.

Why not take a closer look at what’s out there and compare how vast the surrounding universe is compared to our little green planet? See for yourself just how big Jupiter is compared to North America? Or how big our sun is compared to the largest observed star? Maybe you’ll have to stop for a second and re-evaluate how you perceive everything around you!

This is the Earth, a planet that we all currently live on

Image credits: NASA

And this is the solar system where our planet shares space with the other 7

Image credits: NASA

The solar system is fascinating, with a history of not much, not little, just 4.568 billion years! It consists of a single star (Sun, duh!), 8 planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune) and 3 universally accepted dwarf planets (Ceres, Pluto, Eris). Oh, and everything in between, such as moons and asteroids and such. The system mass of the solar system is 1.0014 solar masses (one solar mass is equal to approximately 2×1030 kg, do the calculations) and the majority of the system’s mass is in the Sun (99,86 %) with the remaining majority contained in Jupiter.

This is how far away (to scale) the Moon is from the Earth which doesn’t seem as much

Image credits: Nickshanks

However, you can fit every planet in the solar system in that gap. Quite cool, huh?

Image credits: reddit

Jupiter is our giant of the solar system. It is so big that the entire continent of North America looks like a green speck on it

Image credits: John Brady/Astronomy Central

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. Named after the Roman god of sky and lightning, Jupiter is a planet with a radius of 69,911 km (43,441 mi) and a surface area of 6.1419×1010 km2 (2.3714×1010 sq mi) which would be approximately 122 Earths. Now that’s impressive! Unlike planets like Earth and Mars (that have rocky, terrestrial terrains), Jupiter is a gas giant, meaning that it consists mainly of hydrogen and helium for which it is sometimes called a failed star (because they contain the same basic elements of a star). When compared to the sun, the planet seems like a meek little bubble as its mass is only one-thousandth that of the Sun, however, if you combined the masses of the remaining solar system planets, Jupiter would still be two-and-a-half times bigger.

Another big body is Saturn. Here you can see how big it is compared to Earth (or 6 of them)

Image credits: John Brady/Astronomy Central

If Saturn’s rings were placed around Earth, here’s how they would look

Image credits: Ron Miller

Our observation of other objects in the universe have improved quite a bit, and these images of Pluto are a good example

Image credits: NASA

Ah, the heartbreak of a century, first called a planet and then being stripped of the title and reclassified as a dwarf. Even though it happened back in 2006, there are still people who are upset over the International Astronomical Union’s decision to define the term ‘planet’ which led to Pluto being excluded. In classic mythology, Pluto is the god of the afterlife and the ruler of the underworld. Despite it not being a planet anymore, people still sought to reach it and in 2015 The New Horizons spacecraft became the first probe to perform a flyby of Pluto. It took almost a year for the spacecraft to send back the collected information, but it was so so worth it.

Here’s how an artist imagined Rosetta’s Comet (67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko) would look when compared to the size of downtown Los Angeles. Makes you think about those end-of-the-world movies, no?

Image credits: anosmicovni

Although none of the previous objects have substance compared to our sun, a yellow dwarf star

Image credits: ajamesmccarthy

Sitting at the center of our system, the Sun is a nearly-perfect sphere of hot plasma with a surface area of 6.09×1012 km2 which is 12,000 Earths (just think about it for a moment!). It takes 8 min and 19 s for the light from the Sun to reach our planet. The Sun is made of ~73% hydrogen with the rest being mostly helium (~25%) and only small quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron. According to Wikipedia, the Sun “currently fuses about 600 million tons of hydrogen into helium every second, converting 4 million tons of matter into energy every second as a result”. The energy (which can take 10,000 – 170,000 years to escape from its core) is the source of Sun’s light and heat. When these processes decrease, the Sun’s core will increase density and temperature and the outer layers will expand, consuming the orbits of Mercury and Venus and rendering Earth uninhabitable. But that’s not going to happen in the upcoming 5 billion years or so, nothing to worry about!

This is how Earth looks from the surface of the Moon, not too bad?

Image credits: NASA/Bill Anders

Well, Mars gives a completely different perspective to our little planet

Image credits: NASA

And then there’s the view from behind Saturn’s rings, we seem like a planet for ants

Image credits: NASA

Around 2.9 billion miles away, just beyond Neptune, we seem smaller than a grain of salt

Image credits: NASA

So if that doesn’t put things into perspective, then let’s go big. This is how Earth looks when compared to the Sun

Image credits: John Brady/Astronomy Central

Though the Sun doesn’t look as bad when looking from the surface of Mars, right?

Image credits: NASA

There are so many stars in the universe that their number outweighs how many grains of sand there are on Earth’s beaches

Image credits: Sean O’Flaherty

Which means that our sun is just a grain of sand in the whole picture, especially compared to such giants like VY Canis Majoris

Image credits: Oona Räisänen

If VY Canis Majoris was placed in the center of our solar system, it would almost reach the orbit of Saturn

Image credits: Discovery Channel

If the Sun was scaled down to the size of a white blood cell, the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States

Image credits: NASA

So when you look at our galaxy from that perspective, our tiny Earth truly loses its sense of magnitude

Almost all individual stars we see at night scattered all across the sky are just a fraction of what lies out there

Image credits: ScienceDump

And if you thought that the Milky Way is huge, here it is next to IC 1101, which is 1.04 billion light-years away

Image credits: IC 1101

To top the overwhelming vastness of universe exemplified so far, here’s a photo of thousands of galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

Image credits: NASA

And here’s one of them, UDF 423, 7.7 billion light-years away

Image credits: NASA

What you see at night is just a small part of the universe

Image credits: NASA

And if you came here expecting black holes, here it is! This one’s compared to Earth’s orbit. Terrifying, isn’t it?

Image credits: D. Benningfield/K. Gebhardt/StarDate

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Six Industry Innovators Share Their Inspirations from the Lunar Landing

When the Apollo 11 came to rest in the lunar Sea of Tranquility on July 20th, 1969 and began transmitting back to Earth grainy black-and-white images of a spider-legged ship, pale figures within shiny helmets, and, a bit later, magisterial photographs of Earth itself against the black void of space, the human race’s conception of itself changed forever. The voyage inspired political realignments and countless scientific breakthroughs; it also inspired the look and feel of a number of cultural masterpieces, from Brian Eno’s 1983 ambient classic Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks to Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1971 stark sci-fi epic Solaris.

Architecture and design took that giant leap for mankind along with Neil Armstrong. In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, we spoke to innovators in the industry about their own lunar inspirations.

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Perilune by Suzanne Tick for Luum Textiles. Photography courtesy of Luum Textiles.

Suzanne Tick, creative director, Luum Textiles

As a child, the textile designer Suzanne Tick watched the landing from her home in Bloomington, Illinois. “What was riveting to me was the sound of someone on the moon and his buoyancy,” Tick says. “I had this realization that a person can be on the moon while I’m sitting at home and he could also be floating!” Since then, the moon has been an important force in her life. “I’ve lived by the MoMA Moon Charts and they have played a large part in my consciousness. A poignant time in my life was 2009, 2010, and 2011 which coincided with the last three years of my father’s life, my marriage, and my son living with me. For this reason, I wove a triptych of each of these years and sewed them together as a reminder of that shift in my life.” This design became Perilune, a printed polyurethane which was introduced through Luum.

Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York by Gary R. Hilderbrand. Photography by James Ewing.

Gary R. Hilderbrand, FASLA FAAR; principal, Reed Hilderbrand; Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Design

“Because my Aunt and grandmother had a large color TV, anything momentous like this we watched in their living room,” says Gary Hilderbrand. “All gathered ‘round for the moon landing. It’s singed on my brain.” The landscape architect would go on to transform a brownfield in Beacon, New York, into a waterfront parkland with site-specific work by artist George Trakas and two buildings by ARO. “Apollo amplified my instincts about knowing our place in the world and a sense that we somehow had technological knowledge to improve it,” he says. “Seeing these missions orbiting around the other side of the moon, and then exploring its surface, gave me hope that we could right our own environmental mess and craft a smarter, saner landscape. That way of seeing the Earth descended directly from the Apollo 8 ‘earthrise’ photograph. Who would not be affected by that image?!”

SiriusXM’s New York Headquarters and Broadcast Center by Michael Kostow. Photography by Adrian Wilson.

Michael Kostow, founding principal, Kostow Greenwood Architects

Satellite radio wouldn’t exist without the technological breakthroughs of the Apollo mission, so it made perfect sense to have a space fan design the headquarters for one of its largest players, SiriusXM. “I watched the moon landing as a youngster and even had early aspirations of becoming an astronaut,” says Michael Kostow. “I later wanted to design space vehicles for NASA, would build and fly multi-stage model rockets, and even as an architecture graduate student had an early morning ‘party’ to drink Tang and watch the first launch of the space station with my classmates.” The compact efficiency of the capsules influenced his plan for the satellite broadcasting company: “We wanted to invoke simplicity and timelessness,” he says, “and allow the empty space to be an active player in setting the mood.” Mission accomplished.

Aerial and Half-Moon by Kelly Harris Smith for Skyline Design. Photography courtesy of Skyline Design.

Kelly Harris Smith, designer and creative director, Kelly Harris Smith

“I’ve never been on a rocket ship,” says designer Kelly Harris Smith, “but I have flown on an airplane and to this day I always request a window seat so I can peek out over the landscape.” The designer was born after the moon landing but carries the legacy of an aerial point of view into a collection for Chicago’s Skyline Design of glass panels with systems of micro-patterns within shapes and gradations of color over larger repeats. “It’s rooted in looking at the familiar in a new way,” she says, “which I have to imagine is what all astronauts experience looking back at Earth.”

Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photography by Mark Flannery.

Elizabeth Lowrey, principal, Elkus Manfredi Architects

“Watching the moon landing, even at such a young age, I was awed by the realization that anything is possible,” says Elizabeth Lowrey—even growing up to design a new home for Draper, a not-for-profit engineering firm that created software for Apollo 11. “I remember, as we stepped into Draper’s lobby, the first thing we saw was a space shuttle model.  Even more thrilling was the opportunity to meet Margaret Hamilton, the pioneering software engineer who had made the moon landing possible!” A glass and steel structure forms the roof of the Draper atrium, which is rung with seven floors of offices and laboratories connected by blue glass vertical and horizontal stairways, green walls, and “the Cloud,” a polished steel polyhedron that is truly out of this world.

On the Water/Palisade Bay, New York City. Photography courtesy of ARO.

Adam Yarinsky, FAIA LEED AP, principal, Architecture Research Office

“I was seven, I remember watching the feed of the moonwalk,” says ARO co-founder Adam Yarinksy. “And if you were a kid that was into building models, you had the plastic model kit that was black and white with USA in red on the side. I built a model of the Saturn V and the lunar and command and service modules. The purposefulness of the vehicle had a kind of directness when you compare it to technology today. The control panels were just rows and rows of switches that all looked the same. There was a kind of Dieter Rams quality to it.” But it was politics, not aesthetics, that really inspired Yarinsky’s work with ARO, including this vision of the upper harbor of New York and New Jersey which proposes archipelago and wetlands to mitigate rising sea levels and storm surges. “The finite nature of the planet we’re on reinforces the notion that architecture is part of this web of relationships,” he says. “The best architecture tries to modify and transform, but it’s not an autonomous thing. It’s linked. That sense of connection is the legacy.”

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