This Is What Earth's Air Traffic Looks Like From Space

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Satellites get a wonderful view of the Earth and since October 2015 one in particular has been tumbling through space while keeping a watchful eye on the planet’s air traffic. This is what it’s seen.

The European Space Agency’s GomX-3 CubeSat is little modular satellite that’s equipped with a distinctive helical antenna. It uses that to detect the million of signals emitted by aircraft—many of which are known as ADS-B signals and contain data about speed, position and altitude. This map shows position data of aircraft that GomX-3 has spotted while it’s been orbiting the planet.

It’s hoped more and more planes will begin to transmit ADS-B signals in the future. In the long-term, a networks of satellites like GomX-3 could then be used to provide an automatic aircraft surveillance from above.