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  Image: Geographic Location Direction Photo #: ISS024-E-9404 Date: Jul. 2010
Geographic Region: USA-LOUISIANA

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  View Low-Resolution Image  
  Oil Slick, Mississippi River delta, Gulf of Mexico

The International Space Station (ISS) observed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in late July 2010, 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 sunglint, in which the Sun is reflected off water surfaces back towards the astronaut observer on board the ISS. The sunglint reveals various features in the Gulf of Mexico, especially sheens of oil that appear as packets of long bright streaks (image right). Sediments carried by the Mississippi River have a pale beige 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.

The bright waterways known as the South and Southwest Passes of the tip of the Mississippi River Delta (image center left and lower left) provide passage for ships into the Gulf of Mexico. The section of South Pass shown in the image is 8 miles (13 km) long. This gives a sense of the proximity of the ruined Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which is located only 50 miles (80 km) to the southeast of the imaged area (not shown.) Daily maps of oil distribution produced by NOAA show predicted heavier and lighter oil movement near the Gulf coastline. The map from July 22, 2010, (PDF file) shows that on the day this image was taken from the ISS (July 23, 2010), 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 deep-water areas and coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico.

To learn more about oil slick images shown on the Earth Observatory,
including why the oil isn't visible every day, please visit Gulf of Mexico Oil Slick Images: Frequently Asked Questions.

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Images: All Available Images Low-Resolution 245k
Mission: ISS024  
Roll - Frame: E - 9404
Geographical Name: USA-LOUISIANA  
Center Lat x Lon: 29.0N x 89.2W
Film Exposure:   N=Normal exposure, U=Under exposed, O=Over exposed, F=out of Focus
Percentage of Cloud Cover-CLDP: 10
Camera: N2
Camera Tilt: 42   LO=Low Oblique, HO=High Oblique, NV=Near Vertical
Camera Focal Length: 400  
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: E   The direction from the nadir to the center point, N=North, S=South, E=East, W=West
Stereo?:   Y=Yes there is an adjacent picture of the same area, N=No there isn't
Orbit Number: 2920  
Date: 20100723   YYYYMMDD
Time: 144123   GMT HHMMSS
Nadir Lat: 28.6N  
Latitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Nadir Lon: 92W  
Longitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Sun Azimuth: 87   Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point
Space Craft Altitude: 190   nautical miles
Sun Elevation: 41   Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point
Land Views:  
Atmosphere Views:  
Man Made Views:  
City Views:  
Photo is not associated with any sequences

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