Bad Astronomy

50 trippy years of space trips

In October of 1957, the Soviet Union started the Space Age with the launch of Sputnik. Since then, a lot of spacecraft have wended their way through the solar system and beyond. Trying to visualize all those trips can be mind-bending, so what better way to do so then to make a mind-bending graphic?

The good folks at National Geographic have done just that. Check this out:

This clever image displays all the space missions to various bodies. If an object (like the Moon) has a thicker spiral wound around it, then that means it’s been visited more times. Here’s some detail:

This shows a stylized view of the 73 missions that went to the Moon in the past 5 decades, and has some info on each. The original map is zoomable and pannable, so you can spend some time fooling around there. Take a look at the bottom, too, and you’ll find a scaled view of the solar system with spacecraft positions. Look how far away Voyager 1 is! There’s also a static version of the image online, but I’m not sure how legal that copy is. The original artwork is by Sean McNaughton on the National Geographic staff and Samuel Velasco of 5W Infographics.

And may I add, holy cow! 73 missions to the Moon! And more to come. We’re a cool species.

Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Fark.