Watch an Interactive Time-Lapse of Earth’s History From Space by Google, NASA and TIME
By Daniel Zeevi
Have you ever wanted to go back in time to see what the planet looked like in yesteryear? Today, Google working with TIME magazine, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from satellites in space, all compiled for the first time ever into an awesome interactive time-lapse experience! Google believes “this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.”
The time-lapse images were built from millions of satellite photographs consisting of trillions of pixels. You can now explore these global, zoomable maps as part of TIME’s new Timelapse project. View staggering phenomena like the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and urban growth in Las Vegas from 1984 to 2012:
These stunning images were collected during an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landstat. Since the 1970s, their satellites have been observing earth from space sending back all the images taken for archival. Since 2009, Google started working with USGS to make all these historic earth snapshots available publicly online. Using Google Earth Engine technology, they sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data, in order to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g. without clouds in the way) for every spot on Earth.
As the final step, Google worked with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, to convert all these Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation on Google’s Timelapse website.
Much like the iconic image of Earth from the Apollo 17 mission—which had a profound effect on many of us—this time-lapse map is not only fascinating to explore, but we also hope it can inform the global community’s thinking about how we live on our planet and the policies that will guide us in the future. – Google
What do you think about the Earth time-lapse project?