TIME Magazine in collaboration with Google has launched a Timelapse minisite to show how humans are literally shaping the world (not necessarily in a good way). By showing the progressions of cities and regions over the course of 3 decades of satellite imagery, Google is able to show how borders expand, contract, and disappear because of human interaction.

Spacecraft and telescopes are not built by people interested in what’s going on at home. Rockets fly in one direction: up. Telescopes point in one direction: out. Of all the cosmic bodies studied in the long history of astronomy and space travel, the one that got the least attention was the one that ought to matter most to us—Earth.


That changed when NASA created the Landsat program, a series of satellites that would perpetually orbit our planet, looking not out but down. Surveillance spacecraft had done that before, of course, but they paid attention only to military or tactical sites. Landsat was a notable exception, built not for spycraft but for public monitoring of how the human species was altering the surface of the planet.