Google just took to its official Lat Long blog to wish Landsat a “Happy 40th Birthday” and make its surface imagery live for the entire world to enjoy.

The revered satellite program essentially collects continuous images of the Earth to help smart folks, like scientists and researchers, make knowledgeable decisions on the economy and environment. Google Earth Engine has made Landsat’s data available to such experts anywhere in the world, but now it wants to give the public access.

Googler Eric Nguyen explained:

  • We’re working with the USGS and Carnegie Mellon University, to make parts of this enormous collection of imagery available to the public in timelapse videos of the Earth’s surface. With them you can travel through time, from 1999-2011, to see the transformation of our planet. Whether it’s deforestation in the Amazon, urban growth in Las Vegas or the difference in snow coverage between the seasons.
  • […] In 2008, the USGS opened access to the entire Landsat archive for free. Google Earth Engine makes it possible for this data to be accessed and used by scientists and others no matter where they are in the world.

A highlighted timelapse video is below:

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The seasonal timelapse above (screenshot) shows snow-cover differences over the United States between February and August in 2002.

The video atop explains the history of the Landsat program, and it details how Google Earth Engine catalogs the massive amounts of imagery.

Go to the Google Earth Engine website to discover more timelapse videos.

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