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ISS024-E-009404
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ISS024-E-009404

June 1, 2014
(23 July 2010) ---- This photo taken from the International Space Station on July 23, 2010, shows the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as part of ongoing observations of the region. When this image was taken, three months after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the leak had been plugged for eight days. Water surfaces appear bright and land surfaces appear dark in the image. The stark contrast is due to sun glint, in which the sun is reflected brilliantly off all water surfaces back towards the astronaut observer on board the station. The sun glint reveals various features in the Gulf of Mexico, especially sheens of oil as packets of long bright streaks seen on the right side of the image. Sediments carried by the Mississippi River have a light-yellow coloration in this image, with distinct margins between plumes that likely mark tidal pulses of river water into the Gulf of Mexico. A boat wake cuts across one of the oil packets at image top right. Daily National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maps of oil distribution show predicted heavier and lighter oil movement near the Gulf coastline. The maps show that on the day this image was taken, the north edge of the "oiled" zone was expected to bank up against the delta. The observed spread of the surface oil in the approximately 100 days since the explosion highlights the connectivity between the deepwater areas and coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico.


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