Center City Science

"Outer space is not far at all;
It's only one hour away by car if your car could go straight up!"
Sir Fred Hoyle, Astronomer

How high is space? How deep is the ocean? This site allows you to visualize such distances on the surface of the planet. It also calculates the time to travel to these places (if you could drive straight up/down or over oceans).

The circles below show the extents of different levels of the earth's atmosphere. Click on a circle to learn more. Make sure to use the zoom on the upper left to see all the layers. Then, by selecting a different system from the box in the upper right, explore what other distances look like on the face of the earth, including the distance to the deepest part of the ocean (surprisingly small) and the radius of Jupiter (unsurprisingly big).

The starting location is the Franklin Institute (a Philadelphia center of science). To gain an idea of scale, the map also shows current locations of SEPTA trains (they move as GPS coordinates updated).

Descriptions of layers adapted (or copied) from Wikipedia articles, associated with each layer of the layers of the earth, atmosphere, and ocean, which are released under the CCA-SA 3.0.

Travel time to Earth's Core, Outer Space, or Beyond

This section calculates the time to various levels assuming the (constant) speed of a plane is about 250 meters per second (500 miles per hour), the speed of a car is about 25 meters per second (55 mph), and the speed of a bike is about 5 meters per second (10 mph). Of course you wouldn't actually be able to drive from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Bordeaux, France, but that's about the equivalent to the distance to the core of the earth.

Time to Escape Each Layer

This chart compares travel times to different layers for each system (earth layers, atmosphere, and ocean). Press the button to change systems.