Where exactly are we?

dirt road

Our planet orbits a star, and our star is orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Our star is in a band of other stars within our galaxy about 2/3 out from its center.

More on the size and nature of our Universe can be found in this Classic History article.

Current Reach of Humanity in Space

Humanity's current physical presence in space consists of robotic probes that have been sent to all of the major planets and the asteroid belt within our solar system. The only place other than Earth that humans are consistently inhabiting is onboard the International Space Station in low Earth orbit. Only one robotic probe, the Voyager 2, has left our solar system and is currently traveling in interstellar space.

Since 1957, approximately 8,500 satellites, probes, landers, crewed spacecraft, cargo craft and space station flight elements have been launched into Earth orbit or beyond.

Our Location Within the Milky Way Galaxy

The image below shows our location within our galaxy. The Milky Way his huge, 100,000 lightyears across and about 5,000 lightyears thick, containing somewhere around 200 billion stars.

Milky Way Our location within the Milky Way galaxy. - photo credit: NASA
NGC6744 Galaxy NGC6744. A galaxy with a structure very similar to our own Milky Way galaxy. - photo credit: NASA
A computer generated view of our galaxy.

Our Galaxy's Location

We have seen how humans have found some way to travel to and settle just about every part of Earth. The variety of potentially habitable locations in our galaxy is likely beyond the scope of our imagination. It would be fascinating to see the lengths to which humanity will go to carve out a habitable space in every conceivable location. Using the current technology of chemically powered rockets to explore space is comparable to using horses and sailing ships to explore the Earth. This shows that humanity is willing to settle anywhere possible even when the circumstances are less than ideal.

Originally published


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