Google Earth has just released its biggest update in four years, introducing a new time-splitting feature that users will be able to see on Earth’s satellites over the past 37 years.
In this relatively small space, satellite imagery reveals some striking changes in the natural environment, from the retreat of the Alaskan Glacier to the devastating wilderness. Google Earth first published about 20 years ago as a program that displays a 3D representation of the Earth based on satellite imagery. Over the years, it has increasingly advanced and now covers more than 98 percent of the planet’s population.
The new update adds time to the equation, enabling users to travel around the world with satellite views in recent decades, using more than 24 million satellite photos over the past 37 years. This is an incredible amount of data: some 20 petabytes (or 20 million gigabytes). To compile this data in a single 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic, it covers 20 million processing hours across thousands of Google Cloud machines. “As far as we know, Google Earth’s Timelapse is the largest planetary video on our planet,” Google said in a blog post.
On top of that, Google has uploaded more than 800 timeless videos in both 2D and 3D to g.co/timelapse videos. The videos are available for anyone to download, and Google is encouraging the government, researchers, teachers, and people to use images freely to understand the plight of our planet. “Google Earth’s timelapse will begin to zoom in to assess the health and well-being of our only home and is a tool that can educate and motivate action added.
Anyway, now enough chatter. Sit back and enjoy some of this amazing (and amazing) satellite imagery of our rapidly changing world. Users can easily access the ” timelapse” Google Earth tool in a web browser, prepared with five thematic stories focusing on how our planet has changed over the past four decades, from rapid urbanization to the flow of the Amazon River.
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