Building A Visual Planetary Time Machine

Building A Visual Planetary Time Machine by by Randy Sargent, Google/Carnegie Mellon University; Matt Hancher and Eric Nguyen, Google; and Illah Nourbakhsh, Carnegie Mellon University.

From the post:

When a societal or scientific issue is highly contested, visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words alone cannot — communicating complicated ideas that can be understood by experts and non-experts alike. After all, it took the invention of the optical telescope to overturn the idea that the heavens revolved around the earth.

Last month, Google announced a zoomable and explorable time-lapse view of our planet. This time-lapse Earth enables you explore the last 29 years of our planet’s history — from the global scale to the local scale, all across the planet. We hope this new visual dataset will ground debates, encourage discovery, and shift perspectives about some of today’s pressing global issues.

This project is a collaboration between Google’s Earth Engine team, Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab, and TIME Magazine — using nearly a petabyte of historical record from USGS’s and NASA’s Landsat satellites. And in this post, we’d like to give a little insight into the process required to build this time-lapse view of our planet.

Great imaging and a benchmark to compare future progress in this area.

Within three to five (3-5) years, this should be doable as senior CS project. Graduate students and advanced hackers will be using higher resolution “spy” satellite images.

From five to eight (5-8) years, software packages appear for the average consumer, processing on the local “grid.”

From eight to ten (8-10) years, mostly due to the long product cycle, appears in MS Office XXI. 😉

If not sooner!

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