Infographic: Every Trip To The Moon, Ever

Who remembered that we’d gotten it wrong so many times?

Once the U.S. planted a flag on the moon, it was easy to forget the trials and tribulations of the space race. But did you know that the United States and Soviet Union combined for eight failed missions to the moon within a single year? Eventually, the U.S. got the Pioneer 4 (their fifth attempt) to do a successful flyby in 1959. The Soviet Union followed a few months later by topping us big time—they actually landed with their Luna 2, a probe that looks straight out of 1960s sci-fi television.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

It’s a story that you can follow in this pair of infographics created by Margot Trudell as part of her OCAD graduate thesis. They show every trip ever attempted or planned to the moon, be they flybys, probes, landers, or orbiters using a clever (if not entirely literal) scheme of concentric rings to convey the intent of each mission.

But if you like these infographics, you should check out Trudell’s entire graduate thesis, OMG Space. It’s one giant infographic website that explores our solar system on a true pixel scale. When I asked if we could share its grand graphic in full here, she explained that “the scale of the planets and the distances between them is too large to do in print.”

The pixel-scale chart of our solar system. Click to enlarge.

And then she got really technical, in a graphic design explanation that may make you appreciate the size of our solar system just a little bit more:

For harder numbers: on omgspace.net, the heliosphere (the furthest object from the sun that I have listed) is 19,075,479 pixels from the sun. At 72dpi, that’s 264,937.208 inches, or 22,078.1 feet. The CN Tower (the second tallest building in the world; I also live in Toronto) is 1,815.4 feet tall. So if I were to print out the website (or create a graphic with the same proportions) at 72dpi, the resulting paper strip would be approximately 12 times the height of the CN Tower, or almost as high as Mt. Everest (which is 29,029 feet high). In short, creating a single graphic or print piece with all this information accurately depicted is nearly impossible, and at the very least extremely impractical.

Interestingly enough, we have seen the entire solar system captured quite successfully in one infographic before, but it used a series of tricks to compress the vast amounts of space at various scales. With OMG Space, Trudell did something almost unthinkable: She leveraged a web browser to create a real-scale model of the 10 billion kilometers in our solar system. Granted, it’s nearly impossible to follow, as a simple pattern of stars passes by your eyes at ridiculous speeds, and mountains of pixels leaped between blinks. But there’s no way around the most obvious of points: Space is really, really, really big. No graphic designer can capture its grandeur without abridging it, somehow.

[We dusted off this post from our archives to honor the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon. It originally appeared on Co.Design July 7, 2012.]

[Hat tip: Core77]

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9 Comments

  • zestardseo

    Really, its very amazing images. For best quality poster or image, I recommend this one.

  • Chad Juranek

    Why are you using the "Chad" flag for ELE mission in 2012. That nation doesn't even have a space program. 

  • lakawak

    Who on earth thought that this presetnation was good? An image with too small writing to read normally, so you have to use a tiny magnifier to view it, but the magnifying window was enough to see like 4 words at a time?

  • lakawak

    Wow...way to miss the point. I am referring to the WEBSITE. MAke a higher resolution image of it so WE can read it.

  • al

    It's a poster. 

    Maybe when you buy printed posters, you stand 4 meters away so you can barely read the text, then zoom in with a telescope so you can only see 4 words at a time. But most people don't.It's a web-based preview of something designed for print. Of course the preview isn't perfect. It's a preview.Honestly, the standard of criticism in this field is appalling. People just don't think about what something is trying to achieve before they reach for the rant button.

  • Pheaton

    Great charts, beautiful work... with one mistake.  Apollo 9 did not go to the moon.  It was an earth orbit mission testing the lunar module capabilities.  

  • DrillinTweets.

    I love learning about the solar system, Otter Space Galaxy's all that i love it! It makes my heart jump eyes glare.

  • Andrés Ramírez

    Woooow. Her work is just incredible. The esthetic, and all the technical representantion. Just Amazing. Andrés R.

  • DrillinTweets.

    Very amazing Fascinating work she have completed, I Love the effort she have put forth to let the people see what the solar system looks like and how it works. -Dimitri