You know, there is a tutorial for creating a similar sphere as that one. I did it once.
Thats actually some fun graphic manipulations done in photoshop. You could use gimp too.
I dont know where that tutorial is though. You may want to do a google search for photoshop tutorials spheres or something like that.
Everything you see there is created, I mean the shadow is made and put on it, the light streaks, everything. I think it was made from two images.
Also, I think you may be able to make something similar in blender, using procedurals.
Or maybe even uv map to an image and use reflective? then do a screen print of the resulting reflections that show in the GE. Never tried it. Could work though.
As for creating the panarama and adding the top and bottom, there is a tut on blendenzos site. Its a pain.
Yes there is software to help make panarama pictures, I think one comes free with windows software. But you still have to manipulate the top and bottoms
I’ll see what I kind find later. Cooking dinner now…then eating it…