(Pocket-lint) - Google Earth lets you view a 3D representation of Earth based mostly on satellite imagery. Now, it will let you see how the planet has changed over the past 37 years, thanks to its biggest update since 2017.

Google announced on 15 April 2021 that Google Earth will now allow users to explore the evolution of a location via a timelapse experience. It compiled 24 million satellite photos from the past four decades, with the goal of providing a clearer picture of the changing planet. "One that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades", said Rebecca Moore, the director of Google Earth, in a blog post.

Google plans to continue to add new imagery to this project every year over the next decade. It's collaborating with NASA, the US Geological Survey's Landsat program, and the European Union's Copernicus program. It also worked with Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab to power the timelapses.

How to view a timelapse of your hometown

To explore a timelapse in Google Earth, follow these steps:

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  1. From your browser, go to g.co/Timelapse.
  2. You can use the "Search the planet" search bar to choose any place on the planet.
  3. Once you select a location, Google Earth will bring it up and start the timelapse.
    • The timelapse will be on the left, while the search area will be on the right.
  4. You can play or pause the timelapse or skip to a specific year above the search area.
  5. Once done, you'll notice Google Earth also suggests feature locations in the search area.
    • Google has categories for some locations, such as glaciers and deforestation.

Want to see more cool Google Earth timelapses?

Google said it uploaded more than 800 timelapse videos in both 2D and 3D for public use at g.co/TimelapseVideos. You can watch them as MP4s or on YouTube.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Stuart Miles.