Time Capsule

A visual history of our planet, decades in the making

In 1972 NASA launched the first in a series of satellites (including Landsat 4, right, active in the 1980s and early '90s) to perpetually orbit Earth and show in intricate detail how its surface changes over time. Working with the space agency, the U.S. Geological Survey's Landsat program has accumulated a stunning catalog of images. Google got involved in 2009 and began the painstaking work of cleaning up those images and turning them into readable video footage. The project documents profound changes in our planet, from deforestation to urbanization, and was shared exclusively with TIME. Senior editor Jonathan Woods led the...

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