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Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico

Boats left discernible wakes on the oil slick south and east of the Mississippi Delta in late May 2010. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image on May 21, one month and one day after the deadly explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig.

oilspill

© Image from NASA's Terra satellite - courtesy of the NASA EO-1 team

Sunglint-the mirror-like reflection of sunlight off water-helps differentiate the oil slick from nearby oil-free surface waters. Boat wakes appear as slightly curved lines, accentuated by the pastel tones of the oil slick. One boat wake, running roughly west-to-east through the upper middle part of this image, can be traced to the ship that has made it, which is heading toward the east-northeast. Southeast of the brightest part of the slick, a cluster of boats appears. These boats are in approximately the same area where the Deepwater Horizon rig had been located before the April 20 accident.

© Earth Observatory