Series of animations show just how fast the speed of light actually is

Daily Mail Online 2 months ago

A NASA scientist has released a series of incredible animations showing just how slow light speed can be. 

In a perfectly empty vacuum, a particle of light is capable of travelling 186,282 miles per second or about 670.6 million mph - it can complete a full orbit around Earth 7.5 times in a second.

While that may appear instantaneous on Earth, compared to the vastness of space, it is frustratingly slow - especially when scientists are relying on it to communicate with other planets.  

Scroll down for videos 

In a perfectly empty vacuum, a particle of light is capable of travelling 186,282 miles per second or about 670.6 million mph -- it can complete a full orbit around Earth 7.5 times in a second
In a perfectly empty vacuum, a particle of light is capable of travelling 186,282 miles per second or about 670.6 million mph -- it can complete a full orbit around Earth 7.5 times in a second

The video, created by NASA scientist James O'Donoghue, begins with an animation of a light beam orbiting Earth.

Viewers can see the partial of light, or photon, quickly whiz around our planet as it completes 7.5 orbits every second, as reported by Business Insider.

In the second animation, the clip shows a visual of speed of light between Earth and the moon in real-time.

The distance is 238,885 miles from our planet to our moon, taking the photon 1.255 seconds to complete a surface-to-surface path and 2.51 seconds for a round-trip
The distance is 238,885 miles from our planet to our moon, taking the photon 1.255 seconds to complete a surface-to-surface path and 2.51 seconds for a round-trip

The distance is 238,885 miles from our planet to our astronomical orbiting body, taking the photon 1.255 seconds to complete a surface-to-surface path and 2.51 seconds for a round-trip.

However, NASA has noted that our moon is slowly moving away from Earth, getting about an inch father away each year – so the timing for light speed between the two will continue to change.

O’Donoghue’s third speed-of-light animation brings to life the frustrations NASA endures when contacting and gathering information from the InSight on Mars.

When the American space agency attempts to communicate or download details of the red planet from the rover, it can only be done at the speed of light.

And as the previous animation revealed, light speed becomes much slower as we travel farther away.

In order to do everything in ‘live mode’, scientists must strategically plan out what is needed and an exact location they need to probe in order to not miss their target.

The total distance between Earth and Mars is about 158million miles and it takes light 28 minutes and 12 seconds to complete a round-trip, according to the third animation in the series.

However, there is an event that happens every two years where the planets are position closer, making the distance only 33.9 million miles.

During this even, time decreases to three minutes and two seconds to travel one-way and six minutes and four seconds for a round-trip, which is the example O’Donoghue uses in the animation.

And the farther scientists travel into deep space, the longer it takes.

When looking at Proxima b, which is about 4.2 light-years away from Earth, it would take at least 13,211 years for a solar probe traveling at the speed of light to reach the exoplanet.

There is an event that happens every two years where the planets are position closer, making the distance only 33.9 million miles. During this even, time decreases to three minutes and two seconds
There is an event that happens every two years where the planets are position closer, making the distance only 33.9 million miles. During this even, time decreases to three minutes and two seconds
Tags: Science

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