Las Vegas from space over 25 years

ON MARCH 1, 2009, NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite turned 25. NASA marked the occasion by publishing these photographs of Las Vegas photographed from space over a quarter of a century. The growth caught from above is sustained by an unyielding search for new water in the Mojave Desert below. This posting connects the NASA photos to that search for water.

1984

In 1984, Greater Las Vegas had exhausted its local groundwater, but grew by finally exploiting an allocation from the Colorado River and the nearby reservoir, Lake Mead.

By 1989, (see photo below), it was clear that Las Vegas was outgrowing its Colorado River allocation and the Las Vegas Valley Water District applied for half of the legally available groundwater in the state of Nevada. The plan was to build hundreds of miles of pipeline north to tap the Great Basin Carbonate Aquifer. Using these as yet unapproved but powerfully