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Google, USGS, NASA and TIME Release 29 Years of Satellite Imagery in Timelapse Project

By Veronica Magan | May 13, 2013

      Tags: LandSat, USGS, NASA, Google, Satellite Imagery
      Publication Date: 05/09/2013

      To access the interactive map, click on the image.

      Google, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME have worked together to release an interactive time-lapse made from satellite images of the Earth that show how our planet has changed in recent decades. The images date back to 1984 and show a year-by-year progression of changes to the surface of the Earth.

      The project began in 2009 when Google started working with the USGS to make Landsat’s imagery available online. The Landsat program has been running for 40 years. In total, Google had to work with more than 2 million satellite images occupying more than 900 terabytes of data. For every year since 1984, the company selected those images in which cloud cover didn’t obscure the ground.

      With this data, Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab generated the animations, and TIME magazine built the online presentation complementing the images with information on climate change, urban growth and other visible trends that are transforming the planet.

      The highlights of the time-lapse project show deforestation in the Amazon, the effects of coal mining in Wyoming, the impressive urban expansion of Shanghai and Las Vegas, and the drying of the largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia. TIME’s website features a fully interactive world map where the user can zoom in and out, and search for particular places to see the changes in the past 29 years.

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