An American artist has drawn up an incredible and impressive ‘world map’, which charts the earth and other planets, satellites, comets and asteroids.
So what if we were to compare the size of celestial bodies by representing their surface areas on a map? This was exactly Randall Munroe’s idea, an ex programmer and roboticist for NASA, and he shared his creation on his blog. It quickly went viral and has appeared on several science websites such as Popular Mechanics and The Planets Today.
The artist focused on our solar system, notably the planets and their moons (or satellites). The map presents the solar system as a super-continent on which the conjoined celestial bodies are surrounded by a type of ocean.
This map enables us to see that Mercury, the planet closest to the sun and measuring 4,879 kilometers in diameter, is smaller than Ganymede (5,262.4 km), one of Jupiter’s moons, as well as Titan (5,151 km), one of the satellites of Saturn.
Randall Munroe’s map also shows that our moon (3,474 km in diameter) is almost the exact same size as another of Jupiter’s moons, Europa (3,122 km in diameter). He has included a representation of a world map, showing the earth’s countries, allowing us to see that the Europa satellite totally eclipses the entire continent of Europe.
We also notice that the dwarf planet Eris (2,326 km in diameter), which is bigger than Australia or even Ceres (the smallest known dwarf planet in the solar system at 946 kms in diameter), could practically cover the whole of France.
We should however acknowledge that this map only depicts the ‘solid surfaces’ in our solar system. This is why Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are represented, while the gaseous planets (which in any case would be too large to fit on the map) don’t figure.