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Angel’s Eye View

In the 1970s and ‘80s the view of the land got even better. Although classified military satellites were already on detailed surveillance duty over the planet, civilian technology wasn’t far behind. In 1972 the first satellite designed to monitor Earth’s changing landscape reached orbit. The Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS, later renamed Landsat) started beaming back high-resolution images of the land that were both spectacular in their detail and brutally honest about floods, droughts, and damaging land-use practices worldwide.

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