EarthBalls Frequently Asked Questions

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here are our top FAQs about Orbis EarthBalls… the original photorealistic world globes!

Orbis EarthBalls are the world’s original “reality” globes, displaying our planet as astronauts observe it from outer space. These digitally printed spheres feature the latest generation of NASA satellite imagery. EarthBalls are the most visually authentic replicas of our home planet available anywhere.

Our earth globes are made from a strong vinyl/poly fabric. This is the same material often used for outdoor banners, awnings, and large format outdoor graphics. Smaller EarthBalls are fabricated from lightweight vinyl material that is electronically welded into inflatable globes.

We composite NASA satellite imagery into a flat world map. We then cartographically transform this map into several (usually 6 or 12) football-shaped panels, or “gores.” Next, the flat material is digitally printed with a superwide inkjet printer, then cut and sewn into a multi-panel globe that is inflated into a perfect sphere. Thus, we reproduce the flat satellite imagery into a perfect spherical representation of our world.

The satellite image printed onto Orbis globes is massive! It is called “one kilometer resolution,” which means that each pixel in the digital image represents one square kilometer of our planet’s surface. It is 21,600 x 43,200 pixels in size. This was the most detailed image of the entire world available when we produced the first fully digital EarthBall image in 2002.

Updated Imagery

Now, there is the Next Generation Blue Marble with twice the resolution (500 meters) and four times the detail as the original Blue Marble image. This is because the Next Generation image’s 1/2 kilometer (500 m) resolution means that each square kilometer of the Earth’s surface is made up of 4 pixels, compared to the previous 1 pixel of the original 1k Blue Marble image.

Orbis can digitally print any imagery or information onto the globes, including place names, routes, special locations, company logos, and so on. Orbis can even print digital spheres with other imagery, such as digitized hand-drawn or graphic artwork, photographs, and more.

Questions about Custom Artwork?

It is helpful to have an image to show us what you wish to display on the globe. This will help us to understand your vision and create a globe that is truly one-of-a-kind. Fill out our Inquiry Form to discover how spherical magic can be created for you. We’ll get back to you right away.

What: The remote-sensing source for the global weather image was NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), combined with observations of Antarctica made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) sensor.

When: The data was collected from June through September 2001.

Topographic shading is based upon the GTOPO30 elevation dataset compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center.

Weather: The global weather image is a composite of several days of imagery collected in visible light wavelengths and an additional day of thermal infrared imagery over the poles. The various satellites used were the US GOES, European Meteosat, and Japanese GMS satellites.

See also: NASA Satellite Imagery

Orbis globes provide the opportunity for everyone to gaze upon our precious world the way the astronauts see it. Now, everyone can observe Earth’s unique beauty as the only known living planet in our solar system. Conversely, only a few hundred of the nearly seven billion humans on planet Earth have had that extraordinary opportunity. Until now, you’d have to travel into space to see our planet as it truly appears, a fragile oasis spinning endlessly through space.

On a more practical note, Orbis globes are also used for education in a number of disciplines, entertainment, science, and government.

Huge Inflatable Globes!

Other inflatable orbs (specifically spherical airships) can be engineered upwards of 200 feet in diameter. Given the super-high resolution of the Blue Marble image, Orbis can produce a globe of around 100 feet in diameter, displaying the same brilliant full-color Orbis/NASA satellite image.

Nightglow cities represent all the city hubs on the planet. Also, this feature is exclusive to Orbis. All of our 16′ and 1-meter EarthBalls include Nightglow cities. This feature enables you to observe the cities of Earth glowing brightly via photoluminescent printing and ultraviolet lighting. NightGlow Cities provides a remarkably authentic night time simulation of our world’s cities from Space. We designed this freture using 9 months of image data from the US Department of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program

Typically, it takes six days to produce a new mega-globe, followed by one day of rest. In all seriousness, we prefer having 4-10 weeks (sometimes longer) to produce a new mega-globe, depending on its size, features, and degree of customization. Rush service is also available. Please inquire.

See also: Why Inflatable World Globes

More Questions? Contact Us

If you still have questions that our FAQ didn’t answer, don’t hesitate to reach out to Orbis! Use our Inquiry Form to submit your questions, no matter how small they may seem. We strive to answer your questions within one business day, but often we can respond within the hour. Despite our best efforts to respond quickly, you may need more immediate assistance. To speak with us directly, please call us at 360-376-4320.

About Orbis and EarthBalls

Orbis, in collaboration with NASA, created the Orbis/NASA Blue Marble imagery, the most visually authentic global view of Planet Earth ever produced. Our inflatable globes combine NASA’s newest generation of satellite imaging with Orbis’ cutting-edge globemaking technology. Consequently, this fusion resulted in a new level of global cartography – highly photorealistic world globes. Orbis’ inflatable globes allow millions of would-be space travelers to experience the astronauts’ perspective. Now everyone can observe what our home planet looks like from outer space.