Google has just release a most remarkable visual history. Using 30 years worth of Landsat satellite imagery, they have basically created a time-lapse video of the entire planet’s surface at 30m resolution, going back to 1984. Recall that in 1984 the global population was roughly 4.7 billion — an enormous number. Yet, 2.4 billion less than today’s count. As such, its fair to say that what Google has created is, in large part, a history of the human population base-load and its 50% expansion since 1984. Click, drag, zoom, search. Wherever you go, you’ll see three decades flash by in a couple seconds! That’s right, just like Google Earth, you can “fly” anywhere on the face of the Earth and a 30 year history of the landscape will load and play. Click the picture below to go the Time article, where you can watch the 4 minute introductory video.
Below is the introductory text that Time used to introduce Google’s work to its readers.
Spacecraft and telescopes are not built by people interested in what’s going on at home. Rockets fly in one direction: up. Telescopes point in one direction: out. Of all the cosmic bodies studied in the long history of astronomy and space travel, the one that got the least attention was the one that ought to matter most to us-Earth.
That changed when NASA created the Landsat program, a series of satellites that would perpetually orbit our planet, looking not out but down. Surveillance spacecraft had done that before, of course, but they paid attention only to military or tactical sites. Landsat was a notable exception, built not for spycraft but for public monitoring of how the human species was altering the surface of the planet. Two generations, eight satellites and millions of pictures later, the space agency, along with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has accumulated a stunning catalog of images that, when riffled through and stitched together, create a high-definition slide show of our rapidly changing Earth. TIME is proud to host the public unveiling of these images from orbit, which for the first time date all the way back to 1984.
To view the animations and read more, please navigate here: http://world.time.com/timelapse/