Google Earth Turned into a Time Machine

The major update platform for Google Earth made it a time machine.

Google , Google Earth released the biggest update since 2017. With the new Timelapse mode for Google Earth, the application provides you with a time machine that displays satellite images of the last 37 years. The Timeplapse feature, previously only available in 2D, has now mapped all data across the 3D Google Earth sphere, where you can track built cities, felled forests and receding glaciers.

More than 24 million satellite images representing quadrillions of pixels between 1984 and 2020 have been collected to add animated Timelapse images to Google Earth. Compiling 20 petabytes of satellite images into a single 4.4 therapeutic-sized video mosaic took more than 2 million processing hours from thousands of machines on Google Cloud. It is stated that this is equivalent to 530,000 videos at 4K resolution.

To access the timeline, simply open Google Earth on the web and press the Timelapse button in Google Earth from the navigation, or just go to g.co/timelapse . With Timelapse turned on, you can see a large panel on the right with a timeline from 1984 to date, and a few shortcuts where Google says it is particularly interesting. It should also be noted that the Timelapse feature does not yet work well all over the world. Some places can look blurry even if you set the timer to 2020.

In addition to offering a fun new feature in Earth, Google proposes Timelapse as a teaching tool for climate change. If you want this information in a better way than Earth, Google has also created a large Earth time lapse video series highlighting urban expansion, mining impacts, river roundabout, megacity growth, deforestation, and agricultural expansion. Videos are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. So as long as you give credit to Google, you are free to use them as you wish.

Google emphasizes that it will update Google Earth annually with new Timelapse images over the next 10 years.

Back to top