The speed of light is the fastest that any material object can travel through space. The speed of light in a vacuum is 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second). Undoubtedly, this is incredibly fast, but it is frustratingly slow to communicate or reach other planets (beyond our solar system).
To represent the velocity limit of the cosmos in a way that anyone could understand, James O & # 39; Donoghue, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, took it upon himself to animate it.
Your efforts look at 3 different light speed scenarios to express how fast (and painfully slow) photons can be.
His first animation shows how fast light moves to Earth.
The earth is 24,901 miles around its center. If our world had no atmosphere (the air is refracted and the light slows a little), a photon that rubs its surface could move the equator almost 7.5 times per second.
In this animation, the speed of light seems to be quite fast, however, the film also shows how finite it is.
In its second animation, it covers the distance from Earth to the Moon.
The average distance between Earth and the Moon is 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers). It means that all the light of the moon that appears is 1,255 seconds old and the round trip from Earth to the moon at the speed of light takes approximately 2.51 seconds.
This moment, he suggests, is growing every day as the moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) each year.
O'Donoghue's third animation of the speed of light describes the challenge that many astronomers used to handle on a daily basis.
When NASA tries to communicate with a spacecraft, such as the InSight probe on Mars, it can only do so at the speed of light. This is too slow to operate a spacecraft in "direct mode" as it would with a remote-controlled car. Therefore, the commands must be carefully thought out, pre-packaged and directed to the precise location in the space at the precise moment so that they do not lose their purpose.
As the 60-second clip appears, the light takes 3 minutes and 2 seconds to go between Earth and Mars in the closest focus. That's 6 minutes and 4 seconds for a round trip speed of light.
It means that the finite speed of light gets depressed while communicating with spacecraft like New Horizons, Voyager1 and 2. It suggests that it becomes more frustrating when it comes to leaving the solar system.
Although, the space is incredibly vast. Its observable edge begins at about 45.34 billion light-years away in any direction (and 13.77 billion years in the past), which is too large to illustrate in a simple animation.
O & # 39; Donoghue said he recently learned how to create these animations; his first was for a NASA press release about Saturn's disappearing rings. After that, he went on to encourage other hard-to-understand concepts of space, including a video that illustrates the rotation speeds and sizes of the planets. He said that one "got millions of visits" when he published it in Twitter.