Need to Escape Jupiter’s Gravitational Pull? Good Luck

Posted to Infographics  |  Nathan Yau

Randall of xkcd has been having fun with data visualization lately. In his latest data-ish comic, Randall explores gravity wells. The height of each well is sized relative to the amount of energy (on Earth) it would take to escape that planet’s gravity. The width of wells are scaled by planet size.

So you’d need one big arse rocket to escape Jupiter.

I know it’s a comic, hand-drawn, and all stick-figurey and stuff, but Randall actually explains the concepts really well. There’s good annotation, clear examples, and he’s made an obscure topic easy to understand.

It’s also entertaining in the Bill Nye the Science Guy (i.e. best Saturday morning show ever) sort of way.

[Thanks, Ricki and Thomas]

5 Comments

  • Maybe I just don’t understand how your website functions, but what’s the point of a blog about graphs if they’re all too small to read and can’t be expanded. Where is the “bigger” button??

  • Myrddin Emrys January 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Just gotta say that the ‘(on Earth)’ notation is incorrect. In fact, the amount of energy needed to escape, say, Europa’s gravity well is most explicitly not ‘on Earth’.

    You may be thinking of mass -> weight conversions… ie, if something with a mass of 1 kilogram is on Earth, it presses down with a force of 9.8 Newtons, but with a different force on other planets. This is unrelated to the xkcd chart, and the gravity wells simply indicate energy required to escape them… and that energy has nothing to do with Earth’s gravity well.

  • Similar to the xkcd comic, this poster represents delta-vees in the inner solar system:

    http://www.clowder.net/hop/railroad/deltaveemap.html

Favorites

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.

Famous Movie Quotes as Charts

In celebration of their 100-year anniversary, the American Film Institute selected the 100 most memorable quotes from American cinema, and …

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …

The Changing American Diet

See what we ate on an average day, for the past several decades.