A Picture of Earth through Time

Today, a collaboration between Google, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and TIME, releases what is possibly the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public. More than a quarter-century of satellite images of Earth, combined with Google Earth Engine technology, yields for the first time an interactive time-lapse experience of the global changes of the planet we all inhabit, contributing to a global environmental understanding.

Using millions of satellite images containing trillions of pixels, collected from the ongoing NASA/USGS Landsat mission (http://goo.gl/9oSe9), Google Earth Engine technology sifted through ~900 terabytes of data to find the highest quality pixels for every spot on Earth.  The pixels were then compiled into very large (~2 terapixel) planetary images for each year since 1984, with a resolution of approximately 30 meters per pixel. To process this amount of data Google utilized 66,000 CPU cores in parallel with a total of nearly 2 million CPU hours of processing, analysis that a single CPU would take 210 years to accomplish.

Working with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University (http://goo.gl/RTirL), recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, Google then converted these annual Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation, allowing one to view stunning phenomena such as the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands or the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, as part of TIME's new Timelapse project (http://world.time.com/timelapse/).

Head over to the Google Earth Engine website (linked below) and watch a highlight reel of some of the planetary change you can see. 

See today’s announcement on the Official Google Blog to get more information (http://goo.gl/20Kd), and stay tuned to the Google Research Blog where, next week, we will highlight the technical details of this enormous undertaking as well as the collaborative efforts involved.
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