103 Stunning Satellite Photos That Will Change How You See Our World
Photographer Benjamin Grant has set off on a mission to change the way we see our planet with his stunning photo project - Daily Overview.
Every single day, Grant shares one satellite photo from Digital Globes to change the way we see our planet. "With a focal length 16 times longer than a standard DSLR camera, the cameras are so powerful that you can take a picture of a beach ball on the Golden Gate Bridge in full resolution…from Los Angeles," Grant told Bored Panda. "I try to present the images with no bias and let people decide what these altered landscapes mean, based on the facts and the visual evidence in the frame. I believe that this perspective is a means to start a conversation about the condition of our planet and how we can better protect it."
"I create the images by stitching together numerous high-resolution satellite photographs. I partnered with a satellite company called DigitalGlobe and accordingly have access to their full archive of imagery. Once I have put together a composite image, I then treat it like a photograph to make it as crisp and easy to understand as possible to accentuate certain patterns, colors, or places." The results are so amazing, Grant has even put together a book of over 200 high-resolution satellite photographs. It's titled "Overview: A New Perspective of Earth", and can be purchased through Amazon.
45.904892400°, 13.317671100°. Here’s one of my favorite images from the 'Where We Design' chapter in “Overview”. The town of Palmanova, Italy is recognized by its concentric layout known as a star fort. The rationale for this construction was that an attack on any individual wall could be defended from the two adjacent star points by shooting the enemy from behind. The three rings that surround Palmanova were completed in 1593, 1690, and 1813.
Beach Pool, Mona Vale, NSW, Australia
-33.6787655, 151.3160979. Check out this incredible shot of the ocean pool at Mona Vale Beach, located in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia. There are a number of public ocean pools in New South Wales, offering stunning areas to swim, situated on the rocky coast, with waves splashing into the pool.
“Overview” — Valparaíso, Chile is built upon dozens of steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Known as “The Jewel of the Pacific,” the city is the sixth largest in the county and is home to approximately 285,000 residents. To learn more about the book, click here:
Bourtange, Vlagtwedde, Netherlands
53.0066°N 7.1920°E. Bourtange is a village with a population of 430 in the municipality of Vlagtwedde in the Netherlands. The star fort was built in 1593 during the Eighty Years’ War when William I of Orange wanted to control the only road between Germany and the city of Groningen. Bourtange was restored to its mid-18th-century state in 1960 and is currently used as an open-air museum.
Boca Raton, Florida
26.386332°, – 80.179917°. Residential development is seen in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. Because many cities in the state contain master-planned communities, often built on top of waterways in the latter half of the twentieth century, there are a number of intricate designs that are visible from the Overview perspective. Boca Raton is home to roughly 91,000 residents.
Stunning blue waters surround and pass through the tidal channels of islands in the Bahamas. Small tidal changes on the banks cause water to flow through the narrow channels between the islands, first in one direction and then the other. The darker blue sections of water are the deepest parts of the channels and the surrounding light blue color is more shallow (less than 25 meters / 80 feet). This photo was captured from the International Space Station and is courtesy of NASA
This solar concentrator in Seville, Spain use 2,650 heliostat mirrors to collect and focus the sun’s thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through a 460-foot tall central tower. The molten salt then circulates from the tower to a storage tank where it is used to produce steam and generate electricity. In total, the facility displaces approximately 30,000 tons of CO2 emissions every year.
Al Falah Housing Project, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
24.445187, 54.719998. The Al Falah Housing Project is located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The development covers 12.5 million square meters with 4,857 villas as well as mosques, schools, a shopping mall, and a hospital.
Salt And Clay Pan, Namib Desert, Namibia
Salt and clay pan located on the edge of the Namib Desert in Namibia. These reddish sand dunes of the desert, seen in the top half of this Overview, are among the tallest in the world, with many rising more than 656 feet (200 meters).
Pivot Irrigation Fields, Wadi As-Sirhan Basin, Saudi Arabia
30.089890096°, 38.271806556°. Center pivot irrigation is used throughout the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin of Saudi Arabia. Water is mined from depths as great as one kilometer (~3,000 ft), pumped to the surface, and evenly distributed by sprinklers that rotate 360 degrees. Spurred by a government effort to strengthen its agriculture sector, cultivated land in Saudi Arabia grew from 400,000 acres in 1976 to more than 8 million acres by 1993. For a sense of scale, the total area shown in this Overview is approximately forty square miles (32,000 acres).
Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, China
23°09′32″N 102°44′41″E. Rice paddies, constructed in steps, cover the mountainsides of Yuanyang County, China. Cultivated by the Hani people for the last 1300 years, the slope of the terraces varies from 15 to 75 degrees with some having as many as 3,000 steps. As we’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about prints, I want to mention that this Overview, and many others, can be purchased directly from our website in the Printshop section!
Fruit Orchards, Huelva, Spain
37.714546°, -6.532834°. Fruit trees swirl on the hills of Huelva, Spain. The climate here is ideal for this growth with an average temperature of 17.8° C (64° F) and a relative humidity between 60% and 80%.
Los Caracoles Pass, Andes Mountains
32°51'6"S 70°8'16"W. Los Caracoles Pass, or The Snails Pass, is a twisting mountain road located in a remote section of the Andes Mountains on the Chilean side of the border with Argentina. The path climbs to an elevation of 10,419 feet, has no roadside safety barriers, and is frequented by large trucks.
Bahá'í House Of Worship, Wilmette, Illinois
The Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois, is the oldest surviving Baha'i House of Worship in the world and the only one in the United States. The building contains an auditorium that seats 1,191 people beneath a 138 foot-high (42 m) domed structure. You’ll also notice that many components of the complex come in sets of nine as the number symbolizes perfection and completion in the Baha'i faith.
Brøndby Haveby, Brønby Municipality, Denmark
55 ° 38 ’12.836031 “N, 12 ° 23′ 58.386726″ E
Niagara Falls, Canada, United States
43.077305°N 79.07562°W. Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the border between Ontario, Canada and the United States. Horseshoe Falls is seen here. The falls have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet (50 m). The Maid of the Mist, also visible here, is a boat that has carried passengers into the rapids below the falls since 1846.
Sun City, Arizona, USA
33.6189504, -112.291099. Houses, built in concentric circles, make up a section of Sun City, Arizona, USA. When the development opened on January 1, 1960, the event attracted a crowd of more than 100,000 onlookers and the "futuristic development" was featured on the cover of Time magazine.
Plaça De Tetuan, Eixample District, Barcelona, Spain
41.394921°N 2.175507°E. Plaça de Tetuan is a major square located in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Spain. The area characterized by its strict grid pattern, octagonal intersections, and apartments with communal courtyards.
Plaza Del Ejecutivo, Mexico City, Mexico
19.420511533°, -99.08808712°. This week we will be looking at fascinating examples of urban planning - a major focus of the Where We Design chapter in our new book “Overview”. To start off, here is one of our favorite shots of the radiating streets that surround the Plaza Del Ejecutivo in Mexico City, Mexico. If you have examples of other cities that you think might look particularly mesmerizing from above, please let us know in the comments on Facebook.
Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada, USA
40°47′13″N 119°12′16″W. Over the next few days, thousands of people from around the world will head to the desert in Nevada, USA to construct Black Rock City. Laid out in a grid plan with radiating avenues named after the numbers on a clock, the city serves as home to roughly 60,000 people for Burning Man, an annual week-long event. Burning Man is described as an experiment in community, art, self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Additionally residents in Black Rock City practice one of the event's key principles of ‘Leave No Trace’ – meaning significant efforts are taken to make sure as the city is disassembled in the days following the festival, the desert returns to its original state.
29°58′34″N 31°7′58″E. The Great Pyramids of Giza are located on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. Dating back to 2580 BC, the Great Pyramid, the largest structure at the site, is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world and the only one to remain largely intact. With an estimated 2,300,000 stone blocks weighing from 2 to 30 tons each, the 481 foot pyramid was the tallest structure in the world for more than 3,800 years.
Central Park, New York City, New York, USA
40°46’56”N; 73°57’55”W. Central Park in New York City spans 843 acres. That’s 6% of the island of Manhattan.
Salt Ponds, San Francisco Bay, California, USA
37.5106531, -122.053325. The salt evaporation ponds seen here cover roughly 10 square miles (26 square km) in San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Salt is extracted from the water here through a lengthy process. First, water from the bay is channeled into massive basins where it begins a transformation into brines. Over five years, the brines evaporate, concentrate, and travel several miles before they are collected as pure salt crystals. The massive ponds get their vibrant color from a particular species of algae (Dunaliella) that thrives in extremely salty water and produces a red pigment.
Norfolk, Virginia, US
Train cars filled with coal are stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Operated by the Norfolk Southern corporation, Lamberts Point Pier 6 is the largest coal-loading station in the Northern Hemisphere and serves at the temporary depot for the company’s fleet of 23,000 coal cars.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat — a massive temple complex surrounded by a moat in Cambodia.
28.614656°, 77.057758°. Delhi, India contains approximately 16 million residents. The neighborhoods of Santosh Park and Uttam Nagar, both pictured here, are home to some of the city’s poorest people and contain its most built-up and densely populated land. Numerous studies have shown a correlation between the wealth of a residential area and its total number of trees and the amount of green space. This Overview is a particularly striking example of that trend.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Aircraft Boneyard, Tucson, Arizona, Usa
32.151087°, –110.826079°. The largest aircraft storage and preservation facility in the world is located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The boneyard—run by the 309th Airspace Maintenance and Regeneration Group—contains more than 4,400 retired American military and government aircraft.
Southern California Logistics Airport, Victorville, California, USA
34°35′51″N 117°22′59″W. Here’s one of my favorite images from the Where We Waste chapter of “Overview”. The Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California contains an aircraft boneyard with more than 150 retired planes. Because the demand for jumbo jets has dropped significantly in the last two decades in favor of smaller, more affordable twin‑engine planes, many large aircrafts such as Boeing 747s have been retired. The dry conditions in Victorville – located on the edge of the Mojave Desert – limits the corrosion of metal, meaning planes can be stored here for years while they are stripped for spare parts.
Bastille Day, Paris, France
48.8738°N 2.2950°E. Bastille Day or La Fête National as its known in France. The holiday commemorates the start of the French Revolution which began in 1789 with the Storming of the Bastille, a fortress and prison. In modern times, the day's most celebrated event is a military parade through Paris that begins at the Arc de Triomphe - seen in this Overview - and ends at Place de la Concorde. Joyeux Quatorze Juliet!
Statue Of Liberty, New York City, USA
40°41′21″N 74°2′40″W. The incredible shot shows the Statue of Liberty in New York City. The colossal copper structure depicts a robed female figure — Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty — who bears a torch and a tablet upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence — July 4, 1776. The statue is an American icon of freedom and a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
Glacial Melt, Skafta River, Iceland
63.7751116, -18.09628. Glacial melting and flooding occurs every year by the Skafta River in Iceland. As the water travels down towards the North Atlantic Ocean, incredible patterns are created on the hillsides. Rising lava, steam vents, or newly opened hot springs can all cause this rapid ice melt, leading to a sizable release of water that picks up sediment as it flows down from the glaciers.
Lebrija 1 Solar Power Plant, Lebrija, Spain
37.007977710°, -6.049280818°. The Lebrija 1 Solar Power Plant in Lebrija, Spain is comprised of approximately 170,000 individual mirrors installed on 6,048 parabolic troughs. If placed next to one another, the troughs would extend for 60 kilometers.
Löyly, Helsinki, Finland
60.152008, 24.921262. Löyly is a public sauna located on the edge of the Baltic Sea in Helsinki, Finland. The building, constructed with repurposed wood, features a shell-like design that has been described as a “tunturi” - the Finnish word for something in between a hill and a mountain. In total, Finland contains approximately 3.3 million saunas or roughly one per household. This incredible shot was shared with us by @joelmiikka
Istanbul is the largest metropolitan area in Turkey, with a population of more than 14 million people.
The Sepang Goldcoast Resort, Malaysia
Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, USA
37.802317, -122.419740. Lombard Street runs from east to west in San Francisco, California, USA. With eight hairpin turns dispersed over a one-block section in the Russian Hill neighborhood, Lombard is often referred to as "the most crooked street in the world.”
Great Wall Of China, Northern China
Sydney Opera House, Australia
33°51′31.2″S 151°12′50.5″E. The Sydney Opera House hosts more than 1,500 shows each year in its various performance halls, drawing a total attendance of approximately 1.2 million people. While the buildings famous “shell” design appears uniformly white from a distance, it actually features a subtle chevron pattern composed of tiles in two colors: glossy white and matte cream.
Coastline, El Hur, Somalia
5°00′N 48°16′E. Waves roll into the shores of Somalia, by the village of El Hur. Located on the Horn of Africa, Somalia has the longest coastline on the mainland continent, stretching for more than 3,000 kilometers (1880 miles).
Medina Quarter, Marrakesh, Morocco
31.633080724°, -7.986173343°. The medina quarter in Marrakesh, Morocco is characterized by its winding, maze-like streets. Because the intricately connected honeycomb of alleyways narrows to less than a meter wide (~ 3 feet) at certain spots, the area is generally free from car traffic.
Discovery Bay Discovery Bay, California, USA
37°54′31″N 121°36′01″W. Discovery Bay is a waterfront community built on a network of man-made dikes in Contra Costa County, California, USA. Development of the area began in 1964 is now home to roughly 13,352 residents. As seen in this Overview, many residents have private docks with boat access to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta.
Durrat Al Bahrain, Bahrain
25°50′17″N 50°36′18″E. Durrat Al Bahrain will consist of 15 connected, artificial islands (including six atolls, five fish-shaped, and two crescent-shaped). Construction costs are estimated at $6 billion and the project is slated for completion in mid-2015.
Inman Yard, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
33.800083, -84.451936. The Norfolk Southern Railway operates 21,300 miles of track in 22 states, primarily in the Southeastern US. Inman Yard in Atlanta, Georgia, pictured here, is one of the major railyards that houses a portion of the operation’s 3,648 locomotives and 79,082 freight cars.
Arlit Uranium Mine, Arlit, Niger
18°44′N 7°23′E. With just three days until the release of “Overview”, I’m sharing a few of my favorite images from the book. Here’s one from the chapter all about mining, ‘Where We Extract’. The Arlit Uranium mine is located in Arlit, Niger. French nuclear power generation as well as the French nuclear weapons program are dependent on the uranium that is extracted from the mine - more than 3400 tonnes per year.
Ever wondered how the moon affects the tides of water on Earth? Long story short, it’s gravity. As the moon orbits the Earth, it exerts a gravitational pull on the Earth. Since the Earth is significantly larger, it doesn't actually move towards the moon, but the water on it's surface, being liquid, does move.
Malé, Republic Of Maldives
41.75283°, 73.506694°. Malé is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. With more than 47,000 residents per square kilometer (0.39 square miles), the heavily urbanized city constitutes the fifth most densely-populated island in the world. Malé and the other islands of the Maldives are located one meter (3 feet) above sea level.
Plasticulture / Greenhouses, Almeria, Spain
36.78234°N 2.74315°W. Plasticulture refers to the practice of using plastic materials in agricultural applications. This is visible in the plains and valleys of Almeria, Spain where nearly 20,000 hectares are covered by these greenhouse structures.
Desert Shores Community, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
36.211001, -115.266914. The Desert Shores Community in Las Vegas, Nevada contains 3,351 units and four man-made lakes.
Car Terminal, Richmond, California, USA
37.9137118, -122.368161. Cars are unloaded and parked at an automobile terminal in Richmond, California, USA. In 2015, 17.5 million cars and light trucks were sold in the United States, raising the total number of registered vehicles in the country to roughly 253 million.
White Island, Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand
37°31′S 177°11′E. Whakaari, also known as White Island, is an active stratovolcano, situated 48 km (30 mi) from the North Island of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty. Whakaari is New Zealand’s most active volcano, and has been built up by continuous eruptions over the past 150,000 years. The island is approximately 2 km (1.2 mi) in diameter and rises to a height of 321 m (1,053 ft) above sea level.
La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
34°55′16″S 57°57′16″W. The planned city of La Plata, the capital city of the Province of Buenos Aires, is characterized by its strict grid pattern. At the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the new city was awarded two gold medals for the “City of the Future” and “Better performance built.” This is the fifth of seven posts in our week focused on urban planning.
Ipanema Beach, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
22°59′01″S 43°12′16″W. All of the exciting coverage at the Olympics has us thinking of this beautiful Overview of Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro! Frequently recognized as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, its 2.25 miles of sand are divided into segments by lifeguard towers known as "postos.”
Rodewald, Rodewald, Germany
52°39′57″N 09°28′56″E. Fields surround the residential area of Rodewald, Germany. The agricultural village was first mentioned in historical records from the early 13th Century and is now home to 2,549 people.
Puente De Vallecas, Madrid, Spain
Agricultural Development, Loxahatchee, Florida, USA
Port Newark, Newark, New Jersey
40°40′54″N 74°09′02″W. Shipping containers are stacked at the Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark, New Jersey, USA. The massive facility handles over 600,000 shipping containers every year and has begun expansion projects that will increase annual capacity to 1.1 million containers by 2030.