Satellite Images Before and After Quake Show Devastation Throughout Japan

Earth-mapping satellites have been snapping photos of the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. Combined with earlier photos, the images put the path of destruction carved by the tsunami into stark relief.

The natural color, high-resolution images show entire neighborhoods swept away by the waves. Airports and farmland are inundated, cargo depots have been turned into piles of rubble, and damaged nuclear facilities appear as apocalyptic shells.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 satellites have 20-inch and 18-inch resolutions, respectively. GeoEye’s GeoEye-1 satellite, to which Google has exclusive mapping rights, provides 16-inch resolution.

The New York Times combined the photos into interactive before-and-after slides. Google Earth also has a Japan earthquake image file available for download or viewable in Google Maps.