There is something mesmerizing about this video. I've watched it several times. Sometimes I just watch the sun move across the planets. Other times, I look for specific flights that I have taken to far off places like Patagonia, South Africa, Australia. Then other times, I'm just amazed at the number of flights that take place each day. It is a little frightening when you realize the amount of pollution and the wide movement of people that happens each day.
While the map may look complex, Dr. Karl Rege tells us he and his team found it surprisingly simple to assemble using data readily available on the internet.
"We used a commercial website called FlightStats to gather global flight and schedule information," he says. "So there was no need to contact the different airlines."
The team mined FlightStats for the departure and arrival times of every commercial flight in the world, then plugged it all into a computer to assemble their simulation. For the sake of simplicity, they assumed every plane traveled at the same speed and every flight took the most direct route to its destination. Then every flight was assigned a position on a Miller cylindrical projection, which is similar to a Mercator Projection but doesn't distort the poles so much.