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What Doesn't Stay in Vegas? Sprawl.

Las Vegas has undergone a massive growth spurt. This image series, created in honor of 28th birthday of Landsat 5, shows the city sprawling across the desert. The outward expansion of Las Vegas is shown as a false-color time lapse from all 40 years of Landsat satellite data.

The large red areas are actually green space, mostly golf courses and city parks. The images become a lot sharper around 1984, when new instrument designs improved the ability to resolve smaller parcels of land.

These images were created using reflected light from the near-infrared, red and green portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (Landsat 5 TM bands 4,3,2 and Landsat 1-3 MSS bands 4,2,1).

Landsat data have been instrumental in increasing our understanding of forest health, storm damage, agricultural trends, urban growth, and many other ongoing changes to our land.

NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) jointly manage Landsat, and the USGS preserves a 40-year archive of Landsat images with freely available data over the Internet. The next Landsat satellite, now known as the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) and later to be called Landsat 8, is scheduled for a launch in January 2013.

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