Animating the new Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics with a dynamic tour

Earlier this week Google added to Google Earth global mosaics based on Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016. Google Earth Engine provides animations for the data using a web based interface. We promised to release a way to animate the data in Google Earth.

Simply download this KML file and open it in Google Earth. Then switch to ‘historical imagery’ and find a location of interest then play the ‘Animation’ tour found in the KML. If you wish to move to a different location, close the tour, move to the new location, wait a moment, then open it again. Depending on your internet speed, either let the tour run through a couple of times to load all the imagery, or you can manually go through each year first to make sure it is loaded, then run the tour to see it animated.

The growth of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics.

The imagery covers a period of just over 30 years and there is almost no place on the planet that hasn’t changed significantly in that time, so get exploring!

Remember these are long term changes, not month-to-month changes.

We chose a timing of one second per image. We would have liked to go faster, but Google Earth cannot handle faster tours and starts to skip images if you increase the speed.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Your Kuala Lumpur animation shows eye alt @ 56.90km.
    When i tried animation for a portion of the U.S. in GE Pro, eye alt could get no closer than 77.82 miles (125km). why is that?

    • Never mind. Solved problem not just by deleting Landsat .kml file from GE Pro side bar, but also by turning off “historical imagery” in “View” setting. Then I zoomed in to lower eye alt, added Landsat .km. file, turned on “historical imagery” and was able to view the animation at the lower “eye alt.”
      Sorry for the bother.
      Fascinating product, btw.

Leave a Reply