10 Amazing Photos That Show What Satellites See From Above

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: NASA / Newsmakers / Getty Images
Photo Credit: NASA / Newsmakers / Getty Images

Earth can sure be a beautiful place to live, but what does it look like from the “outside”? Satellites circling our planet have been able to capture many spectacular images of different things that are not only fascinating from the ground but also from above. Capturing phenomena both natural and man-made, these photos show viewpoints we’d have never been able to see without satellite imaging.

Grid lines in Barcelona, Spain

A satellite image of an area in Barcelona, formed into near-perfect square blocks.
Satellite imagery of a Barcelona, Spain neighborhood. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

These rigid grid-patterned roads and buildings in Barcelona, Spain are part of the Eixample district. This was an extension of the old city that was once walled and had become extremely overpopulated during the mid-19th century. City planner Ildefons Cerdà designed this region to ease traffic problems while also allowing for breezes to flow through the busy city.

The Burning Man Festival

Satellite view of the Burning Man Festival, formed into a semi-circle in a desert.
Image of the 2017 Burning Man Festival in Northwest Nevada. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Burning Man Festival is an annual event that is held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. For anywhere between a week and ten days, tens of thousands of people gather together to create a self-sufficient community that promotes art and self-expression. The setup of the community appears to be a result of artistic expression given its geometric design as seen from satellite imaging.

One of many California wildfires

A satellite view of wildfires spreading across California.
A satellite shows the extent of the Happy Camp Complex fire in California in 2014. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Due to California’s dry and windy weather conditions, the state is prone to wildfires. Wildfires have become more frequent and more dangerous with every passing year. Once a wildfire has started, the Diablo winds of Northern California fan them and cause them to become more intense. This makes extinguishing them all the more difficult.

Ocean Flower Island, China

A satellite view of Ocean Flower Island in China.
In this satellite image is the Ocean Flower Island, or Haihua Island, an artificial archipelago built by the Evergrande Group in Danzhou, Hainan Province of China. (Photo Credit: Gallo Images / Orbital Horizon / Copernicus Sentinel Data 2022 / Getty Images)

Ocean Flower Island is the world’s largest artificial archipelago, although it’s split into three separate islands. It was in development for 12 years. It finally opened in 2020, costing $25 billion to complete. It’s located in the island province of Hainan and its peony shape can be distinctly seen with satellite imaging.

Saudi Arabian crop circles

A satellite view of Saudi Arabian crop circles, formed into tight circles.
Crop circles in the desert in the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin, in Northern Saudi Arabia. Image collected on July 08, 2020 by Sentinel-2 satellites. (Photo Credit: Planet Observer / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

Nothing like the ones made by farmers or extraterrestrials, the crop circles in Saudi Arabia are quite a spectacle as seen from satellite images. The reason their crops are formed into circles is that the country practices the center pivot irrigation method. As sprinklers rotate from a single point in a circle, the vegetation that receives the most water also grows in a dark green circular shape.

Central Park, New York City

A satellite image of Central Park in New York City.
Central Park in New York. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Nestled in the heart of the “concrete jungle” that is New York City sits Central Park. It takes up approximately 843 acres of land, which is larger than the entire country of Monaco. Surprisingly, it is not the largest park in NYC, but it is the most famous, having been included in hundreds of films and television shows. Inside the park, features such as a lake covering over 100 acres and a Victorian Gothic castle can be found.

Fort Bourtange, Netherlands

A satellite image of the small village of Bourtange, Netherlands.
Bourtange, Vlagtwedde, Netherlands. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Bourtange star fort was originally constructed in 1593 under the order of William the Silent. It was built as a means to help the Dutch during the Eighty Years’ War but was eventually converted into a small village in 1851 and remains well preserved today. A moat surrounds the fort, providing additional protection and extra charm to the overall aerial view.

The Paraná River

A satellite view of a river winding through a mass of green earth.
This photo of the Paraná River was captured by satellites in 2020. (Photo Credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin)

The Paraná River is located in South America. It’s the second largest on the continent, following the Amazon River. Its length is approximately 4,880 kilometers, flowing through Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. This satellite photo showcases the river in 2020 when it had reached its lowest levels in decades following a drought that plagued the area.

309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group

A satellite view of several military vehicles, largely aircraft, sitting in an airfield in like groups.
The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group facility in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Often referred to as “The Boneyard,” the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group is an aircraft and missile storage facility for the United States Air Force. It is located in Tucson, Arizona, and on its land nearly 4,000 aircraft of all types can be found. It appears that aircraft are sorted by type, making the satellite view a rather satisfying one for those who like organization.

Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery

A satellite view of Our Lady of Almudena cemetery in Spain.
Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery, Madrid, Spain. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery is a necropolis located in Madrid, Spain, and is one of the largest in the world. There are more people laid to rest in this cemetery than there are people living in Madrid. It was originally built in 1884 but has continued to expand into the massive and beautiful cemetery it is today.