The Gulf Coast Oil Spill as Seen from Space
The following is a photograph from the Aqua satellite of the oil slick that is threatening the gulf coast, provided by NASA, after the explosion on an oil rig on April 25th, 2010. The slick is now 20 miles from reaching land and the response team is planning on conducting a controlled burn as early as tomorrow.
Yet another environmental disaster in the making, we have to find a better way.
NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the Gulf of Mexico on April 25, 2010 using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. With the Mississippi Delta on the left, the silvery swirling oil slick from the April 20 explosion and subsequent sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform is highly visible. The rig was located roughly 50 miles southeast of the coast of Louisiana.
The oil slick may be particularly obvious because it is occurring in the sunlight area, where the mirror-like reflection of the Sun off the water gives the Gulf of Mexico a washed-out look. Oil slicks are notoriously difficult to spot in natural-color (photo-like) satellite imagery because a thin sheen of oil only slightly darkens the already dark blue background of the ocean. Under unique viewing conditions, oil slicks can become visible in photo-like images, but usually, radar imagery is needed to clearly see a spill from space.
Image Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team
UPADTE 01MAY10: The situation has only gotten worse in light of 5,000 barrels/day being expelled as opposed to the initially reported 1,000 barrels/day. In addition, the solutions to the problem seems to be applicable only in the distant future as suggested by The Nightly News through the following.