Solving Cities

NASA captures Las Vegas sprawl from space

Posting in Cities

A new time-lapse video from NASA shows 40 years of urban expansion in Las Vegas.


For the past 40 years, Las Vegas, like many American cities, has struggled to get a handle on its urban sprawl. Now, a new satellite video from NASA shows just how much the city grew away from its urban core. The video shows the city's growth spurt from 1972, when the metro area had a population of about 300,000, to 2010, when it reached nearly 2 million people. Check out NASA's video:

According to NASA, the large red areas are generally green space, golf courses or city parks, and the gray areas are infrastructure. The images were taken by NASA's Landsat satellites and were created "using reflected light from the near-infrared, red and green portions of the electromagnetic spectrum," NASA said. The Landsat satellites aren't just good for observing the rate of urbanization in cities, they are also helping with other studies, NASA explains:

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 resources. Studies using Landsat data have helped land managers keep track of the pace of urbanization in locations around the world.

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure