Benjamin Grant's Overview: A New Perspective of Earth stitches together satellite images to show our planet as we've never seen it before.
It all started with a happy accident: When he was prepping for a meeting in 2013, messing around with a mapping program, Benjamin Grant typed in “Earth” to see if the program would zoom out. But instead, it zoomed in, to Earth, Texas. Grant was mesmerized by the image of farmland and fields, neat squares with circles in the center. Not long after, he created the blog Daily Overview, stitching together photos from satellite company DigitalGlobe’s image library to create stunning pictures of the Earth from above.
Now, three years after he looked at crop circles around Earth, Texas, Grant is releasing Overview: A New Perspective on Earth, which contains more than 220 jaw-dropping photos. “When I first started the project, I decided that all of the images would focus on places of human impact,” Grant tells mental_floss via email. “Accordingly, the first eight chapters of the book are organized by the major themes that arose over the course the daily installments of the project, categorizing the most visible manifestations of our activity that can be seen from a cosmic perspective ('Where We Harvest', 'Where We Extract', 'Where We Power', etc.). The final chapter, however, serves as a contrast to the preceding images and instead focuses on places where our impact is less obvious (‘Where We Are Not’).”
To find the places he featured in the book, Grant started with a thought experiment, first considering the themes that make up the first eight chapters and then looking for new places to capture within those themes. “For example, if I wanted to show an Overview related to energy, I could begin with a search for a list of solar panel facilities,” he says. “Then I could inspect those locations through the satellite imagery, keeping in mind that I would only include a location in the book if it had a very strong visual appeal or a particularly fascinating story to tell.”
Both Daily Overview and the Overview book take their names from the “Overview Effect,” the feelings astronauts experience when they see our planet from space for the first time: Awe, and a sudden clarity about the fragility of our planet. Grant hopes his book will give earthbound humans similar feelings.
“Ultimately, I believe these images can be used as a means to get people thinking about our built environment, about how we are impacting the planet, and if I am successful in my composition, people will at least start looking,” he says. “Then the concise explanation that accompanies each Overview will hopefully inspire a fresh curiosity about our planet and also raise awareness about the current state of our one and only home.” Here are eight of mental_floss’s favorite images from Overview, accompanied by their captions.
"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 Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group—contains more than 4400 retired American military and government aircrafts."