EarthBalls FAQ

Here are our answers to your Frequently Asked Questions 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 photorealstic world globes are digitally printed spheres featuring the latest generation of NASA satellite imagery – the most visually authentic replicas of our home planet available anywhere.

Earth Globes are typically made from a strong vinyl/poly fabric – the same material often used for outdoor banners, awnings & large format outdoor graphics. The smaller EarthBalls are fabricated using lightweight vinyl material that is electronically welded into inflatable globes.

The NASA satellite imagery is composited into a flat world map which is then cartographically transformed into several (usually 6 or 12) football shaped panels or “gores”. The flat material is digitally printed with a superwide inkjet printer, then cut & sewn into a multi-panel globe that is inflated into a perfect sphere. The flat satellite imagery is reproduced into a perfect spherical representation of our world.

The satellite image that’s printed onto Orbis globes is HUGE! It is referred to as displaying “one kilometer resolution”, meaning 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 in existence in 2002 when we produced the first fully digital EarthBall image.  There’s now 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 with the 1/2 kilometer (500 m) resolution of the Next Generation image, each square kilometer of the Earth’s surface is comprised of 4 pixels, compared to the previous 1 pixel of the original 1k Blue Marble image.

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

When: The dates during which the data was collected are June through September 2001.
Topographic shading is based upon GTOPO 30 elevation dataset compiled by 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 infra-red imagery over the poles. The various satelilites used were the US GOES, European Meteosat, and Japanese GMS satellites.

See also: NASA Satellite Imagery

Given that only a few hundred of the nearly seven billion humans on planet Earth have had the extraordinary opportunity to travel into space and see our planet as it truly appears, Orbis globes provide the opportunity for everyone to gaze upon our precious world & observe it’s unique beauty as the only living planet in our solar system, a fragile oasis spinning endessly through space. On a more practical note, they are also used for education in a number of disciplines, entertainment, science & government.

Other inflatable orbs (specifically spherical airships) have been 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.

This feature enables you to observe the cities of Earth glowing brightly via photoluminescent printing & ultraviolet lighting. Utilizing 9 months of image data from the US Department of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, NightGlow Cities provides a remarkably authentic night time simulation of our world’s cities from Space.

Any imagery or information can be digitally printed onto the globes, including place names, routes, special locations, company logos, etc. Orbis can even print digital spheres with other imagery displaying digitized hand-drawn or graphic artwork, photographs, etc.

Typically this takes six days, followed by one day of rest. Seriously, we prefer having 4-10 weeks (sometimes longer) to produce a new mega-globe, depending upon its size, features and degree of customization. Rush service is available as well. Please inquire.

See also: Why Inflatable World Globes

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