Sprawl Is What Happens in Vegas (Time-Lapse Video)

photo las vegas lake mead water
via. Landsat/Ralph Mayer

Las Vegas just keeps growing --- not too healthy for an amusement park in the desert. NASA's Landsat 5 satellite recently turned 28 years old. To celebrate the birthday (and show off what the equipment can do), the time-lapse video above shows satellite views of "a rapidly expanding Las Vegas since 1972." No doubt. Bugsy Siegel would be proud. But Nevada urban planners probably shouldn't.

Do they even have urban planners in Las Vegas? Because the mob of people and development just keeps growing. More and more red. The development in these photos has been tinted red to make the growth easier to see. It looks like the Earth is bleeding or something. Maybe it's time to take a step back and realize the effect of sprawl on a desert landscape?

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas?

NASA officials explain in a post on Flickr:

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.

So maybe I should take back the part about Earth bleeding? Well, no, green space in a desert, greened by chemicals and Lake Mead water, isn't too green after all. The Las Vegas Sun is counting down the days until the lake runs dry.

Landsat/Ralph Mayer/via
Images from 1984 and 2007 show the increasing urban sprawl of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the shrinking of Lake Mead on the border of Nevada and Arizona.