The Earth is a complex, dynamic organism that is constantly transforming with the rhythms of the Universe. For the past 40 years, the Landsat satellite has been capturing images of the world’s changing landscapes, covering the same area every 16 days. The program was launched in 1972 as a joint venture between NASA and the US Geological Survey in an effort to collect “remote sensing” information. A recent story by Treehugger explains how Landsat, in collaboration with Google’s Earth Engine, is compiling trillions of images taken over the decades to be used free of charge.
It is hoped that scientists, governments, and independent researches will be able to take advantage of the data, helping to solve problems such as deforestation, estimating biomass and carbon levels, and mapping unexplored and roadless areas. Google and Landsat have already released a video detailing the project, as well as fascinating time-lapse pieces. Among some of the most interesting subjects include Las Vegas’ urban explosion, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, and drying of the Aral Sea.
Landsat has already been involved with a number of projects that aim to devise solutions to some of the globe’s most perplexing problems through the use of standardized scientific data. From watching how nations control and utilize water resources to studying the effects of climate change on vegetation and population, our survival may just be getting a little help from someone watching from above.