Giant EarthBall Inquiries


Orbis was selected to design and build two 16 foot diameter world globes for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Through a unique collaboration with NASA, Orbis transformed NASA’s Blue Marble satellite image data into incredibly accurate spherical globes of planet Earth.

This gigantic mosaic photograph consists of thousands of individual images taken from an orbiting array of satellites, and features Orbis Cloudforms™, the most photorealistic depiction of our world’s atmosphere ever created.

Using proprietary digital cartographic tools, the Earth image is transformed into football-shaped segments (gores) which are printed onto flat fabric material and assembled into giant spherical Orbis world globes. The six gore projection is used to make Orbis 16″ and 1 meter diameter EarthBalls, and the 12 gore projection is used to produce Orbis Giant EarthBalls.

NASA Blue Marble Plate Carree Globe Projection

Globe Projection in 12 Gores

Globe Projection in 6 Gores


Orbis World Globes is a cartographic design company located north of Seattle, on beautiful Orcas Island, in Washington State’s Salish Sea. We are modern pioneers in the field of photorealistic Earth imaging. Orbis developed the first generation of world globes to display our planet as it appears from outer space, complete with its atmospheric cloudforms, our Orbis EarthBalls.

We also introduced the first world replicas to display Earth’s city lights through the use of photoluminescence. These look like the Earth from space at night, with glowing cities showing where the population centers are.

The Orbis/NASA Blue Marble imagery represents the most visually authentic global view of Planet Earth ever created. Our globes combine NASA’s newest generation of satellite imaging with Orbis’ cutting-edge globemaking technology. The resulting creation represents a new level of global cartography – highly photorealistic world globes. These globes enable millions of would-be space travellers to experience the astronauts’ perspective of observing our home planet from outer space.