Correct DPI from space

Ever wondered what DPI you'd need if the artwork was being viewed from space? No? I have.


Artwork for astronauts

If viewed from the International Space Station at about 350km up then you need a resolution of:

0.0005 dpi

Now, this doesn't take into account clouds or distortion caused by the atmosphere ‐ not normal considerations for your everyday designer. It also assumes the person viewing the artwork has good eyesight – my guess is that the guys on the ISS can see pretty well.

Big pixels

With the artwork set at 0.0005 dpi the pixels would be roughly 160ft across. I've just tried to set Photoshop to have a resolution of 0.0005 dpi, but it can't do it (it goes up to 1 dpi). They obviously didn't see the need.


I've updated my resolution chart to accommodate my new findings. See below.

Viewing Distance Min Resolution
0.6m  /  2ft 300 dpi
1m  /  3.3ft 180 dpi
1.5m  /  5ft 120 dpi
2m  /  6.5ft 90 dpi
3m  /  10ft 60 dpi
5m  /  16ft 35 dpi
10m  /  33ft 18 dpi
15m  /  50ft 12 dpi
50m  /  160ft 4 dpi
60m  /  200ft 3 dpi
200m  /  650ft 1 dpi
350km (e.g. from space) 0.0005 dpi

Real world resolution

Read my article about choosing the correct resolution for real world design problems. It covers things like brochures, flyers, posters and billboards (no mention of designing artwork for astronauts).

Lastly, thanks to Death to The Stock Photo for the image and Adam for helping me with some of the mathsy stuff.

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