21 Satellite Photos of Earth that Will Give you a Fresh Perspective

Friday, April 22, 2016 |

The world looks different when seen from above. During spaceflight, astronauts and cosmonauts have reported a cognitive shift in awareness while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface; this is known as the “Overview Effect“. This experience inspired Benjamin Grant to launch Daily Overview, an online project that attempts to, “fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet.”

1. Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

The Arc de Triomphe is located at the center of twelve radiating avenues in Paris, France. Because of numerous delays, including the abdication of Napoleon, construction of the monument took nearly 30 years to complete.


2. Bondi Beach – Sydney, Australia


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Overview of Bondi Beach in Sydney. One of the city’s most popular destinations, the beach gets its name from the Aboriginal word “Bondi” that means waves breaking over rocks.


3. Het Loo Palace – Apeldoorn, The Netherlands


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Het Loo Palace is located in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. “The Great Garden,” situated behind the residence, follows the general Baroque landscape design formula: perfect symmetry, axial layout with radiating gravel walks, parterres with fountains, basins, and statues.


4. Stelvio Pass – Italy


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

The Stelvio Pass is a road in northern Italy that is the highest paved roadway in the Eastern Alps with an elevation of 2,757 m (9,045 ft) above sea level. Only accessible in the summer months (June-September), the road and its 75 hairpin turns are sometimes scaled during the famous Giro d’Italia cycling race.


5. Magdeburg Water Bridge – Germany


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

The Magdeburg Water Bridge is a navigable aqueduct in central Germany. As the largest bridge of its kind in Europe, it spans the Elbe River to directly connect two canals, allowing large commercial ships to pass between the Rhineland and Berlin without having to descend into and then out of the Elbe. The structure was built with 24,000 tons of steel and 68,000 cubic meters of concrete.


6. Rice Terraces – Yuanyang, China


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

For the past 1300 years, the Hani people of Yuanyang County, China have cultivated spectacular, terraced rice paddies on mountainsides.

7. Dubai Interchange – United Arab Emirates


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

A whirlpool interchange connects three major roads by the Miracle Garden in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. When construction of this junction began in 2006, Dubai contained 30,000 industrial cranes – 25% of all cranes on the planet.


Do you start with a location then wonder what it looks like from above?

Or do you casually select a location in Google Earth and explore from there?

“At the outset of the project, we decided that the Overviews would focus only on the areas where humans – for better or worse – have impacted the landscape. Accordingly, every Overview begins with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify those locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) that will convey that idea. To date, a number of themes have developed – such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, architecture, urban planning – that always provide a good place to start that process.” – Benjamin Grant, Daily Overview



8. Mount Taranaki – North Island, New Zealand


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Mount Taranaki, also known as Mount Egmont, is an active stratovolcano on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. A change in vegetation is sharply delineated between the national forest that encircles the volcano and the surrounding land comprised of intensively-farmed dairy pastures.


9. Olive Tree Plantation – Córdoba, Spain


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

An olive tree plantation covers the hills of Córdoba, Spain. Approximately 90% of all harvested olives are turned in to oil, while the 10% are eaten as table olives.


10. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, USA


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

The Golden Gate Bridge is a 1.7 mile (2.7 km) long suspension bridge in San Francisco, California that spans the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge’s signature color, known as “international orange”, was selected to complement its natural surroundings and enhance its visibility in fog.


11. Norfolk Coal Train Depot – Virginia, USA


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

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.


12. Port of Rotterdam – The Netherlands


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe covering 105 square kilometers.


13. Fishing Nets – Quanzhou, China


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Floating fishing nets are visible in the waters of Quanzhou, China.


14. Durrat al Bahrain – Bahrain

Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

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.


What is it about aerial photography/imagery that is so striking to you?

“I believe that regularly viewing the Earth from this mesmerizing vantage point has the power to change the way we think about the planet. The project derives its name from “The Overview Effect” – a phrase that refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. These astronauts claim to gain a new understanding of what it means to be alive on our planet. They have an opportunity to appreciate our home in its entirety—to reflect both on its beauty and its fragility. I hope to inspire a similar feeling of awe with this daily dose of fresh perspective.” – Benjamin Grant, Daily Overview



15. Brasilia, Brazil


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Brasília was founded as the new capital of Brazil on April 21, 1960. Brasília’s urban plan – resembling an airplane from above – was developed by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in 1956 in order to move the capital from Rio de Janeiro to a more central location.


16. Burning Man – Nevada, USA


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Burning Man is a week-long, annual event held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA. Drawing more than 65,000 participants in 2014, the event is described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. The developed part of Black Rock City, the temporary residence of the campers, is arranged as a series of concentric streets with the “Man Sculpture” and his supporting complex at the center.

17. Ships in Singapore


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Cargo ships and tankers – some weighing up to 300,000 tons – wait outside the entry to the Port of Singapore. The facility is the world’s second-busiest port in terms of total tonnage, shipping a fifth of the world’s cargo containers and half of the world’s annual supply of crude oil.


18. Amazon Deforestation – Brazil


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Clearcutting operations in the Amazon Rainforest of Para, Brazil branch out from one of the state’s central roads.


19. Tulip Fields – Lisse, The Netherlands


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Vibrant tulip fields sprawl across the landscape in Lisse, Netherlands.


20. Palmanova, Italy


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

Palmanova, located in northeastern Italy, is famous for its concentric fortress plan known as a star fort. The rings that surround the town were completed in 1593, 1690, and 1813.


21. Turbine Interchange – Florida, USA


Image Courtesy of Benjamin Grant/Google Earth/Digital Globe

A turbine interchange connects the SR 9A and SR 202 in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Also known as a whirlpool interchange, this structure consists of left-turning ramps sweeping around a center interchange, thereby creating a spiral pattern of right-hand traffic. This type of junction is rarely built, due to the vast amount land that is required to construct the sweeping roads.

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