Google and Time Magazine have partnered to create a brilliant new project called Timelapse that shows satellite imagery of earth during the course of nearly 30 years, giving us a better understanding of how our planet is transforming.
“Working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and TIME, we’re releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space, compiled for the first time into an interactive time-lapse experience,” Google engineering manager Rebecca Moore wrote in a blog post today. “We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.”
The image catalogs are built from more than two million satellite images from all over the world from 1984 to today. Some key examples of what you can see in the project are Alaskan glaciers melting, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon, and urban growth in rapidly evolving cities.
“We started working with the USGS in 2009 to make this historic archive of earth imagery available online,” Moore wrote. “Using Google Earth Engine technology, we sifted through 2,068,467 images — a total of 909 terabytes of data — to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth. We then compiled these into enormous planetary images, 1.78 terapixels each, one for each year.”
Time Magazine also used the Timelapse project as a jumping off point to tell stories about how satellites collect imagery, climate change, urban population increases, and the extraction of natural resources. One particular standout is the population explosion of Las Vegas from 1984 to today. Check out what Vegas looks today below: