Water inundating the ground zero construction site

In 2009 Google met with Tom Loveland, a lead scientist with the USGS — which is home to the Landsat archives — about turning the trove of images into maps and mini-movies for the use of governments and researchers around the world.Google and the USGS soon struck a deal, but that was the easy part.That meant a satellite or, preferably, multiple satellites that could maintain a steady downward gaze, tracking habitat destruction, urbanization, industrial sprawl and more.Udall’s concern gave rise to Project EROS (Earth Resources Observation Satellites), later renamed Landsat.Over here is Dubai, growing from sparse desert metropolis to modern, sprawling megalopolis.

TIME is proud to host the public unveiling of these images from orbit, which for the first time date all the way back to 1984.ICELAND - This stretch of Iceland's northern coast resembles a tiger's head complete with stripes of orange, black, and white. They captured only part of the visible spectrum, and what’s more, they were static.The tiger's mouth is the Eyjafjorour fjord that juts into the mainland between steep mountains. A picture of, say, a reservoir or a section of forest could tell you a lot about those sites, but only how they looked at one moment on one day.In one six-month period, it collected half a million pictures, most of them stored in traditional negatives and prints, and began digitizing them.Even getting the already digitized EROS and Landsat images from the USGS to Google took some doing, necessitating the construction of a new digital pipeline that could handle the massive stream of data.

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