TIME Magazine & Google team up to show Landsat Satellite Pictures – 30 Years of Change

TIME Magazine in collaboration with Google has launched a Timelapse minisite to show how humans are literally shaping the world (not necessarily in a good way). By showing the progressions of cities and regions over the course of 3 decades of satellite imagery, Google is able to show how borders expand, contract, and disappear because of human interaction.

A profound testament to both human progression and the effects of industrialism, Landsat is a project involving data from eight separate satellites that have orbited the Earth since 1972. Google partnered with the project to sift through the millions of pictures Landsat has taken since its launch, stitching the best ones together to produce a publicly available time-lapse charting environmental changes over the past two decades. This in-depth project pulls urban development, melting glaciers and population growth into a beautiful, easily understandable mosaic.

It took the folks at Google to upgrade these choppy visual sequences from crude flip-book quality to true video footage. With the help of massive amounts of computer muscle, they have scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The images are striking not just because of their vast sweep of geography and time but also because of their staggering detail. Consider: a standard TV image uses about one-third of a million pixels per frame, while a high-definition image uses 2 million. The Landsat images, by contrast, weigh in at 1.8 trillion pixels per frame, the equivalent of 900,000 high-def TVs assembled into a single mosaic.







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