One Awesome Map Shows What Air Traffic Looks Like From Space

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The skies over the U.S. alone play host to more than 87,000 flights per day — in fact, there are around 5,000 planes over the country at any given moment, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

That's just in the U.S. Now, imagine what the dizzying webs of air traffic must look like across the entire globe.

Here it is, in one image. 

The European Space Agency has a little satellite that documents planes flying across the globe. The Gom-X-3 has been in space for the last six months picking up on signals from millions of planes, according to the ESA

The satellite's job is to keep an eye on aircraft entering European airspace and record information about how fast they're traveling, where they are in space and at what altitude they're flying. 

The neon green shows where planes were located over the six-month period.

There's even more we're not seeing. Not all aircraft currently have automatic dependent broadcast surveillance — the signal that the Gom-X-3 uses to capture data about a given plane — so this is a limited view into how much air traffic crosses the planet. The ESA says it expects all aircraft passing through Europe to have ADB-S soon.    

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