Landsat satellite program celebrates 40th anniversary — 2012…Mandatory Credit: Photo by Science Photo Library / Rex Features (1800610k)

A Changing World
These amazing satellite images show how the march of progress has altered the face of the earth in just a few decades.

The images were all taken by a fleet of Earth-observing satellites that form part of the ‘Landsat’ program, which celebrates its 40th anniversary on 23 July.

Jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the initiative has been consistently gathering data about our planet since 23 July, 1972.

This makes it the world’s longest-running satellite program for global land observations.

Its archive of images forms an impartial, comprehensive, and easily accessed register of human and natural changes to the Earth.

Currently in orbit is Landsat 7, which has been in operation for 13 years. A replacement satellite is scheduled to launch in January 2013.

This series of photos shows how much some areas of the world have changed in just a short amount of time.

For example, in 1987 an image of the Wadi As-Sirhan Basin in Saudi Arabia shows largely desert; however, by 2012 most of the region has been developed into farmland.

A 1992 image of Binhai in China in shows very little coastal urbanisation but by 2012 the area has been transformed from a swampy region into a major economic zone.

Meanwhile, in 1990 the coastline of Dubai remained practically untouched, but fast forward 16 years and it has sprouted the kind of developments the country has become famed for.

And in Brazil in 1984 work had just begun on the Samuel Dam, located on the Jamari River in Rondonia. Another image, taken in 2011, shows the impact the dam has had with a new reservoir and areas of deforestation clearly visible.

MUST CREDIT PHOTOS BY: Science Photo Library / Rex Features

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