How Many Satellites Are Orbiting the Earth?

by Mike Smith on February 2, 2010

It’s surprising how much stuff is up there!  You may have seen the movie WALL-E where the spacecraft passes through a ton of junk while leaving Earth’s atmosphere.  Well, it’s not that bad, yet.  :)

Using the data provided by the Union of Concerned Scientists Satellite Database, visual master Michael Paukner created this great infographic showing the amount of satellites and debris each country has orbiting the Earth.

Big Brothers Satellites orbiting Earth

Click image for full view

For objects to stay in orbit around the Earth approximately 150 miles up from the surface they must travel about 17,000 miles an hour (4.72 miles a second).  These objects complete a full orbit around the Earth every 90 minutes.   If you think that traveling 17,000 miles an hour is fast, you’ll find it interesting that this planet that we are sitting on travels about 67,000 miles an hour (18.61 miles a second) through space on its way around the Sun.  That means that we travel a total distance of approximately 587,920,000 miles each year.  Amazing stuff!

Want to learn more?
What is Orbit? – NASA
Orbital Objects – National Geographic

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