Feature

NASA Satellites' View of Gulf Oil Spill Over Time
07.20.10
 
Credit: NASA/Goddard/Jen Shoemaker and Stu Snodgrass

Two NASA satellites are capturing images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began April 20, 2010 with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This short video reveals a space-based view of the burning oil rig and, later, the resulting spread of the oil spill. This version updates a previous version of the video through July 14th. The timelapse uses imagery from the MODIS instrument, on board NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The oil slick appears grayish-beige in the image and changes due to changing weather, currents, and use of oil dispersing chemicals. The oil slick only appears clearly in MODIS imagery when the sun is a a particular angle in relation to the satellite's position as it orbits over the Gulf. In areas where sunlight reflects off the ocean's surface toward the satellite, oil-slicked water usually looks brighter than cleaner ocean water in the region. (no narration, music only)

The images in this video were selected to show the spill most clearly. The full image archive is available at http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov. For more information and imagery about the oil spill, visit NASA's Oil Spill website. Imagery and information about the oil spill is also available on NASA's Earth Observatory Natural Hazards website.