Headlines > News > Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico as Seen from Space

Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico as Seen from Space

Published by Matt on Sat Jun 12, 2010 4:20 pm
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Oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig lingered near the Mississippi Delta on June 10, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image the same day.

Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico as Seen from Space. Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory

Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico as Seen from Space. Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory

The oil slick is pale gray, and the most conspicuous portion of the oil slick in this image appears near the Deepwater Horizon rig. A smaller, though still sizable, extension of the slick appears northeast of the rig. Clouds somewhat obscure the Mississippi Delta, northwest of the rig.

In photo-like satellite images, sunlight reflecting off the ocean surface and into the satellite sensor makes the oil slick easier to see. Oil smoothes the surface of the water, making it a better mirror of sunlight than the surrounding water. As a result, the oil appears lighter than oil-free surface waters.

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