The 39-second time-lapse video produced by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland flips through nearly 40 years of growth, starting in 1972 when about 300,000 people lived in the Las Vegas area and ending with the year 2010, when the population neared 2 million.
“This is one of the places where you see an incredible amount of change. Las Vegas just exploded,” Goddard spokeswoman Aries Keck told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Keck said the agency was looking for a place with rapid growth in a short timeframe to highlight its Landsat program, a joint operation between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that launched 40 years ago this month. The video posted earlier in March also commemorates the 28th birthday of Landsat 5, the program’s longest-running satellite.
Landsat’s satellites use sensors to document changes to the earth’s surface. That data helps researchers track trends such as forest health, storm damage and urban growth.
The false-color images in the video depict green areas as red, so palm-lined boulevards and golf courses show up brightest. Viewers can watch subdivisions creep west toward Red Rock Canyon and see suburban Henderson thicken with housing developments as a jazzy drumbeat plays in the background.
“You can see the Strip. You can see the airport get bigger,” Keck said of the video. “It’s like the video game Sim City.”
The clip had more than 175,000 views by Sunday morning.