PLANET EARTH

One Year Later, Images of Gulf Oil Spill From Space Still Powerful
Following a deadly oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of miles of coastline were threatened. A year later, scientists say the oil is largely gone -- but satellite images of the spill from the edge of space still astonish.
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April 29, 2010: The massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico had moved perilously close to shore. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured a natural-color image of the oil slick just off the Louisiana coast. The oil slick appears as dull gray interlocking comma shapes, one opaque and the other nearly transparent. The northwestern tip of the oil slick almost touches the Mississippi Delta.

(NASA Earth Observatory / Jesse Allen)

Gulf_Oil_Spill_July_28

July 28, 2010: After tropical storm Bonnie passed through the region, NOAA reported less oil observed on Gulf of Mexico overflights. Bonnie was expected to help dissipate and weather the oil on the sea surface, spreading out the slick, lowering surface concentrations, and making the oil more amenable to biodegradation. 

(NASA's Earth Observatory/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Gulf_Oil_Spill_July_14

July 14, 2010: A silvery gray patch of oil stretched across the Gulf of Mexico about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southeast of the tip of the Mississippi River Delta. The largest oil slick is located in the center of the image, but a few isolated ribbons of oil are visible to the east. The tan-colored waters around the river delta are full of sediment.

(Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Oil_Spill_Nears_Coast_2

April 29, 2010: A massive oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico continued spreading, moving perilously close to shore. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured a natural-color image of the oil slick just off the Louisiana coast. Here, a close-up view of the oil slick, which appears as dull gray interlocking comma shapes, one opaque and the other nearly transparent.

(NASA Earth Observatory / Jesse Allen)

Oil_Spill_Nears_Coast

April 29, 2010: In this image acquired by ESA’s Envisat, oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico can be seen as a dark blue swirl advancing toward the Louisiana coast. Envisat acquired this image with its Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS).

(ESA)

Oil_Spill_Nears_Coast_4

April 28, 2010: In this image, acquired by Envisat's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument, the oil spill is visible as a lighter grey whirl on the left side of the large black pattern stretching across the Gulf.

(ESA)

Containing the Spill

April 28, 2010: Crews raced to the Gulf of Mexico to contain the oil spill as a remote sub tried to shut off an underwater well that was gushing 42,000 gallons of oil a day. The spill had grown at this point to more than 1,800 square miles.

(NASA/NOAA)

Oil Spill Nearing Coast

April 28, 2010: A damaged oil well was determined to be leaking five times more oil into the Gulf of Mexico than officials first estimated. This view of the slick was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The eastern part of the oily area is covered by streaks of clouds, but the reddish streaks shown in photos of the slick appear to be visible. It appears that a tendril of oil is reaching out toward the tip of the delta.

(NASA / Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Team, Goddard Space Flight Center)

Oil Spill Nearing Coast

April 28, 2010: This view of the slick was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The eastern part of the oily area is covered by streaks of clouds, but the reddish streaks shown in photos of the slick appear to be visible. It appears that a tendril of oil is reaching out toward the tip of the delta.

(NASA / Norman Kuring, Ocean Color Team, Goddard Space Flight Center)

Oil_Spill_Location_and_Projection

April 28, 2010: Approximate locations of oil from the Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, from April 25 to April 28, including a forecast for April 29. Oil locations were based on trajectories and overflight information.

(NOAA)

Explosion__Oil_Leak_in_Gulf_of_Mexico

April 27, 2010: As the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico came within 20 miles of barrier islands and beaches in Louisiana, the U.S. Coast Guard announced plans to begin setting fire to the leaked oil to reduce the amount that can contaminate ecologically sensitive areas. Image by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

(NASA / Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response)

Oil_Leak_Nearing_Coast

April 25, 2010: A spectroradiometer on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured the Mississippi Delta, with the oil slick a silvery swirl to the right. The oil slick may have been particularly obvious because it was occurring in the sunglint area, where the mirror-like reflection of the sun off the water gives the Gulf of Mexico a washed-out look. The close-up view shows waves on the water surface as well as ships, presumably involved in the clean up and control activities.

(NASA / MODIS Rapid Response)

Massive_Oil_Slick

April 25, 2010: The Advanced Land Imager on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite caught a close-up view showing waves on the water surface as well as ships, presumably involved in the clean up and control activities.

(NASA / MODIS Rapid Response)

Oil Leak From NASA Satellite

April 25, 2010: These images of the affected area were captured by the MODIS camera on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The Mississippi Delta is at image center, and the oil slick is a silvery swirl to the right. The oil slick may be particularly obvious because it was occurring in the "sunglint" area, where the mirror-like reflection of the sun off the water gives the Gulf of Mexico a washed-out look.

(Jeff Schmaltz / MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC)

Envistat_Monitors_Spill

April 25, 2010: The European Southern Observatory's Envisat satellite caught this image of the oil spill (visible as a white whirl on the right) in the Gulf of Mexico. The image was acquired from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS).

(ESA)

Space Radar

April 22, 2010: The ESA's Envisat satellite captured the oil that is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after a drilling rig exploded and sank off the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. In the black-and-white radar image the oil spill is visible as a dark grey whirl in the bottom right. The Mississippi Delta is at top left, and the Delta National Wildlife Refuge extends out into the Gulf.

(ESA)

Smoke_from_Burning_Rig

April 21, 2010: the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico left a dozen workers missing and several more critically injured and started a large fire that was churning out smoke days later. This image of the Gulf Coast and near-shore waters was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

(NASA / Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team)

Smoke From Space

April 21, 2010: Smoke from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig can be seen in this GOES-13 satellite image. Twelve people were missing and seven critically injured following an explosion and fire at the oil-drilling rig.

(NOAA)

Smoke_Plume_from_Burning_Rig

April 21, 2010: An oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico left a dozen workers missing and several more critically injured and started a large fire that was churning out smoke days later. This image of the Gulf Coast and near-shore waters was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

(NASA / Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team)

Oil Rig Burning in the Gulf of Mexico

April 21, 2010: An oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving 11 people missing and 7 critically injured according to the U.S. Coast Guard. This imagery is from the visible channel of the GOES-13 satellite, showing the burning rig in the center and sediment discharge from the Mississippi River near New Orleans to the northwest.

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA))

One Year Later, Images of Gulf Oil Spill From Space Still Powerful

Following a deadly oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, hundreds of miles of coastline were threatened. A year later, scientists say the oil is largely gone -- but satellite images of the spill from the edge of space still astonish.

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