Stunning timelapse shows how the Earth's surface has changed since 1984

Google releases clever video after teaming up with Nasa and Time magazine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 May, 2013, 3:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 May, 2013, 4:10pm

It's no secret that landscapes change over time, but Google has managed to capture the development of the earth's surface in a clever timelapse video.

Using satellite images gathered by Nasa and taken since 1984, Google removed cloud cover and filled in missing pixels to produce moving images showing the evolution of our planet.

Hongkongers can zoom in on different areas of the region and watch as Victoria Harbour shrinks through reclamation. They can also see the power station changing the shape of Lamma Island as well as the appearance of Hong Kong airport on Chek Lap Kok, and the growth of Shenzhen.

In China, huge swathes of land turn from green to grey as urban development takes hold. shanghai and Beijing are just two of the cities that spring into growth in the timelapse which is available to view on Time magazine's website.

Google used satellites from Nasa's Landsat program which perpetually orbit the Earth in order to monitor how the human species was altering the surface of the planet. Along with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Nasa and Google merged the catalogue of images into one continuous stream.

The Landsat programme - originally called Project EROS (Earth Resources Observation Satellites) and launched in 1966 - was the brainchild of Stewart Udall, former Interior Secretary under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Nasa launched the first satellite in 1972 and has since sent six more into space at an altitude of 438 miles (705 km), orbiting the Earth every 84.3 minutes.

In 2008 the U.S. government ruled that those pictures, which had been available for sale to the public, should be free - and that's when Google got involved and decided to turn them into a timelapse.