How high is space, how far can you fall with a parachute, where is the Project Calliope satellite going to be, and where does the hard radiation from the sun get nasty? Gathered for the first time in one place is our High Altitude Explorer's Guide.
A typical airplane cruises at 9km (6 miles) up, around 30,000 feet. Military jets (from the SR-71 onward to modern planes) can hit over 30km (19 miles) up, over 100,000 feet.
Can you parachute from that height? Yes, in 1960 Joseph Kittinger set the record at 31.3km (19.5 miles), or 102,800 feet. Felix Baumgartner is trying this year, 2010, to freefall from 36km (over 22 miles), an 118,000 feet fall.
But those aren't 'space'. In the US, "space" begins at 80.4km (50 miles), or 264,000 feet. General international consensus sets a similar limit for the start of space as 100km (62 miles), or 380,000 feet.
"Low Earth Orbit" (LEO), where many satellites live, goes from 160km (100 miles, 525,000 feet) to 2,000km (1,240 miles, 6.5 million feet). In LEO, we have some sample objects to look at.
Our own Project Calliope satellite will be 230km up (143 miles, 755,000 feet). The International Space Station (ISS) cruises higher up, from 278km (173 miles, 912,000 feet) to 460km (286 miles, 1.5 million feet).
Starting above the 'space' limit but a bit before LEO, the inner Van Allen Belts, which magnetically shield the Earth's surface from high energy particles, extend from 100km (62 miles, 33,000 feet) up to 10,000km (6,200 mil, 3.3 million feet).
And geostationary orbits are at 35,786km (22,236 miles, 117.5 million feet). These geosynchronous orbits, lined up above the Earth's equator, have an orbital period equal to one day, so they 'hover' over the same spot of the Earth.
Tuesdays at The Satellite Diaries and Friday at The Daytime Astronomer (twitter @skyday)
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- How Zika Infects The Placenta
- Case For Moon: Humanity's Gateway To Solar System Exploration, Open Ended, Planetary Protection At Its Heart
- Music For The Eyes
- Schrödinger's Cat Is Not Just Alive And Dead, He's Both In 2 Places At Once
- Making Or Breaking Habits: The Endocannabinoids Can Do It
- Genomic Study Tracks African-American Dispersal In The Great Migration
- Scientists Discover How Supermassive Black Holes Keep Galaxies Turned Off
- " America, in fact the planet, needs a president who will make America green again. The bull****..."
- "Yes, agreed, nice way of putting it. Though a rather interesting garage that's full of treasures..."
- "Oh, okay, sorry about that. Likewise for yourself. ..."
- "Four paragraphs in I hit delete. I'm just going to wish you the best in all things...."
- "Oh rightio. I should add something about that as background for those who haven't come across the..."