If there’s one thing hi-res photography’s good for, it’s showing an amazing amount of detail. Users can see the minutiae just by zooming in, and depending on the scale, they can do it without necessarily having to sacrifice zoom-out macro views.
Now here’s something that tests the limits on how far the scale can go: This week, the Landsat Data Continuity Mission put out a mind-boggling panorama photo starting from Russia and extending way out to South Africa. That’s something like 720,000 square miles, all in one monster photo. Why here? Well, considering that our planet’s surface is mostly covered in water, it’s one of the few stretches that can be taken without loads of plain blue taking up a big portion of the imagery.
The panorama was shot in 56 increments over the course of 20 minutes as the satellite orbited the Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour. You can catch the video below spanning the entire image — over a course of 15 minutes, which should tell you something about how vast the capture is — or just hit up the interactive embed below that, to zoom around different areas of the photo.
For the best, full-page experience, complete with snapshots, head to Gigapan’s project page.
The goal of the Landsat missions is to chronicle global human expansion, infrastructure and rural agriculture, among other things, all from vantage point of space. It’s essentially a top-down perspective on how human beings, as well as nature, impact the Earth.