map of earth on material (sphere) is distored - Why?

OK, I want a sphere with the standard NASA unwrapped image of earth, that you can find everywhere - for example this one

I’d like to do other planets too. These images are in a 2:1 proportion.

When I attach this to a standard material as the albedo map, the result is very distorted - the poles are just tiny (Antarctica for example.)

There seems to be no way to make this thing map properly, and there is just zero documentation or information I can find on how unity maps to spheres so that I can get it to look right!

I cannot be the only person who has ever tried this before…

So, how in the world does Unity’s spherical mapping work, and how to create a texture image that will properly map on a sphere?

That’s an equirectangular projection. You can’t apply it to the standard Unity sphere, but it’s trivial to setup the appropriate UV map for a sphere primitive created in Blender, say. See!unwrapping-sphere/cvnq , for example.