A partnership between NASA, Google and several other institutions has created a series of incredible interactive time-lapse photographs that show some of the Earth’s most tragic environmental developments, including the felling of the Amazon rainforest and the disappearance of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska.
The pictures were a result of NASA’s Landsat program, a project that sent the first satellites into orbit to monitor the Earth rather than outer space. The millions of resulting photos from NASA, along with a large collection of pictures form the U.S. Geological Survey, were then stitched together by engineers at Google. Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab also pitched in to build the final HTML5 site designed to make animations interactive and browsable.
The project was unveiled by Time, along with the fascinating backstory. (We highly recommend the read. You can check it out here.)
The images used for the timelapse are astonishingly detailed. Consider this: a standard television image uses one-third of a million pixels per frame, while a high-definition TV uses 2 million. The Landsat images, however, contain 1.8 trillion pixels per frame—the equivalent of 900,000 high-definition televisions, according to Time.
Click through the interactive map and watch the Wyoming coal mines expand, the slow disappearance of Lake Urmia—the largest landlocked body of water in the Middle East, and the growth of Las Vegas across the Nevada desert, among other fascinating (and slightly terrifying) developments. Just make sure you have a free hour to kill before you dive into this seriously engrossing multiplatform feature.