"A view of urban sprawl from outer space" is probably not unintended self-parody -- although one can never be sure.
Defining urban sprawl as scattered development (instead of "planned" and "uniform"?), the researchers used satellite data and aerial photography to find that Los Angeles sprawls less than Boston and that Miami is compact while Pittsburgh sprawls.
Outer space, of course, is where most of the discussion has been. I have never been able to grasp planners' idea that unless there was a clean and clipped urban boundary, there was a problem. But such is the nature of much of the discussion: ad hoc in the service of flimsy notions on behalf of tougher top-down controls.
Thanks to Ashwani Vasishth for the pointer.