How Big Is Space – Interactive version

Earth

Troposphere

Troposphere

Stratosphere

Stratosphere

Mesosphere

Start of Low Earth Orbit

Mesosphere

Thermosphere

Thermosphere

Exosphere

End of Low Earth Orbit

Exosphere

Magnetosphere

Magnetosphere

Inner Solar System

Inner Solar System

Outer Solar System

Outer Solar System

Heliosphere

Heliosphere

Edge of the solar system

Start of high cloud layer

6.1km

Height of Mount Everest

8.9km

Commercial aircraft cruising height

11km

Bell-X1 Aircraft

22km

Height reached by Chuck Yeager
in first supersonic aircraft

Chelyabinsk Meteor

23km

Height of 18 metre diameter meteor when it exploded over Russia in 2013

Legonaut

24km

Lego man launched by two Canadian teenagers in January 2012

Typical weather balloon height

27km

Highest skydive

39km

Felix Baumgartner sets the world record for skydiving, 2012

Highest living organisms

41km

Low concentrations of microbes and spore-forming bacteria

Highest unmanned balloon flight

53km

Meteors burn out

65km

Only large meteorites
reach Earth's surface

Lowest altitude of Aurora Borealis

80km

Karman Line

100km

Internationally accepted boundary between atmosphere and space

Iranian space monkey

120km

Iran claims that Fargam the monkey was successfully launched into space in December 2013

Meteor showers

190km

Small particles glow as they hit the upper atmosphere

First man in space

330km

Maximum height reached by the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961

International Space Station

420km

As measured on 27th February 2014

Earth's gravity 86% as strong

500km

Highest nuclear explosion

540km

ARGUS III, a US test above the South Atlantic in 1958

Hubble Space Telescope

570km

Concentrated space debris

900km

Spent satellite fragments and
junk from rocket launches

Beginning of inner Van Allen belt

1,000km

First of two intense radiation zones that can damage satellites

Farthest travelled by a dog

1,660km

The Soviet space dog Laika, in orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957

Earth's gravity 50% as strong

2,600km

Earth's gravity 25% as strong

6,400km

End of inner Van Allen belt

10,000km

Near miss

11,300km

Distance a 15-metre asteroid passed from Earth in September 2013

Beginning of outer Van Allen belt

15,000km

Second of two intense radiation zones that can damage satellites

GPS satellites

20,200km

Asteroid 2012 DA14

27,700km

Distance a 30-metre asteroid passed from Earth in February 2013

Communications satellites

35,800km

End of outer Van Allen belt

60,000km

Geocorona

100,000km

Faint UV halo around Earth caused by hydrogen atoms scattering sunlight

Asteroid 2005 YU55

318,000km

Distance a 400-metre wide asteroid passed from Earth in November 2011

Moon

384,000km

Average distance from Earth

Farthest travelled by humans

400,000km

By astronauts Haise, Lovell and Swigert in an emergency return trajectory during the notorious 1970 Apollo 13 mission

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Point 2

1,490,000km

Earth-Sun Lagrangian Point 1

1,500,000km

One of five space probe 'parking lots' where gravitational effects of Earth and Sun balance out

Lexell Comet

2,260,000km

Closest known approach
to Earth by a comet (1770)

7P/Pons-Winnecke Comet

5,890,000km

Closest known approach to Earth by a comet in the 20th Century (1927)

Asteroid Toutatis

6,900,000km

Passed close to Earth in December 2012

Sun (Brahe's Estimate)

8,000,000km

Tycho Brahe's 16th-Century estimate of distance to the Sun

45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova Comet

8,990,000km

Closest known approach
by a comet in 21st Century

Sun (Kepler's Estimate)

24,000,000km

Johannes Kepler's 17th-Century estimate of distance to the Sun

Venus

38,200,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Mars

55,700,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Halley's Comet

62,800,000km

Closest approach to Earth (1986)

Mercury

77,300,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Ceres

429,000,000km

The largest asteroid in our Solar System at 945km across

Sun (Cassini's Estimate)

140,000,000km

Giovanni Cassini's 1672 estimate of distance to the Sun

Sun

150,000,000km

Average distance from Earth. Lagrangian points 4 and 5 also
at this distance.

Juno Probe

215,000,000km

As of 14 February 2014. Bound for Jupiter on a mission to investigate its atmosphere and deep interior

Inner edge of main asteroid belt
& Earth-Sun Lagrangian Point 3

300,000,000km

Jupiter

589,000,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Outer edge of main asteroid belt

600,000,000km

Saturn

1,200,000,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Cassini Probe

1,500,000,000km

Orbiting Saturn since 2004

Uranus

2,580,000,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Pluto

4,280,000,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

Neptune

4,310,000,000km

Minimum distance from Earth

New Horizons Probe

4,380,000,000km

On its way to investigate Pluto and the Kuiper Belt

Inner edge of Kuiper belt

4,490,000,000km

Icy region beyond the planets containing frozen water, methane and ammonia

Outer edge of Kuiper belt

7,480,000,000km

Termination Shock

12,600,000,000km

'Wind' of electrically charged particles from the Sun becomes denser, hotter and slower

Voyager 2 Probe

15,700,000,000km

As of 21 February 2014.
Launched in August 1977 and contains a gold phonograph record with greetings from Earth to any living being it might encounter.

Voyager 1 Probe

19,000,000,000km

As of 21 February 2014.
Launched September, 1977,
and is the farthest man-made
object from Earth.

You've now reached the outer edges of our own solar system

It would take you about 23 million years of continuous scrolling on this scale to get to the farthest regions of the observable universe, another 435,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km
or 46 billion light years away.

We think we'll stop here.

Live long and prosper

Everything in space is moving constantly, and distances are variable and dynamic over wide ranges. Data are rounded to a maximum of 3 significant figures. In most cases, we have given average distances for simplicity's sake. For planets, we have given minimum distances - the closest the planets come to Earth over the course of their orbits. Other distances (termination shock, heliopause) are uncertain and estimates are given. Some distances, particularly the location of probes and other man-made spacecraft, are based on time-specific readings taken in February 2014. Travel times are based on travelling in a straight line - spacecraft rarely do this in practice. Asteroid and comet measurements are diameters. Distances are from Earth’s surface. Object sizes are not to scale.

IIB Studio for BBC Future
Distance
Scale of journey
To boldly go... (HH:MM:SS)
0km
1 pixel : 1m
00:00:00 at Warp 1