ESA's Envisat monitors oil spill

April 27, 2010
This Envisat radar image captures the oil that is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after a drilling rig exploded and sank off the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi on April 22, 2010. The oil spill is visible as a dark gray whirl in the bottom right. Envisat acquired this image from its Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar on April 26 at 15:58 UTC. Credit: ESA

These ESA Envisat images capture the oil that is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after a drilling rig exploded and sank off the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, USA, on 22 April.

In the black-and-white radar image the spill is visible as a dark grey whirl in the bottom right, while in the optical image it is seen as a white whirl. The Mississippi Delta is at top left, and the Delta National Wildlife Refuge extends out into the Gulf.

Officials report that about 1000 barrels of oil a day is escaping from a damaged oil well located 1.5 km under the drilling rig. By yesterday afternoon, the spill was covering an area some 77 km long and 63 km wide.

The US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the London-based BP and oil industry experts are attempting to stem the leak and prevent it reaching the Gulf Coast and the fragile ecosystem there.

This is an Envisat optical image of the oil spill (visible as a white whirl on the right) in the Gulf of Mexico. The image was acquired from the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on April 25, 2010, at 16:28 UTC. Credit: ESA

In order to observe the clean-up efforts, the US Geological Survey, on behalf of the US Coast Guard, requested satellite maps of the area from the International Charter Space and Major Disasters. The Charter is an international collaboration, initiated by ESA and the French space agency, CNES, to put satellite remote sensing at the service of civil protection agencies and others in response to natural and man-made disasters.

Envisat acquired these images from its Advanced (black and white) and Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer on 26 April at 15:58 UTC and on 25 April at 16:28 UTC, respectively.

Explore further: Estonian oil spill threatens 35,000 birds

Related Stories

Estonian oil spill threatens 35,000 birds

February 7, 2006

As many as 35,000 birds, including rare white-tailed eagles and eagle owls, are in danger as the result of an oil spill off Estonia's northwest coast.

Cyclone Nargis and Myanmar floods seen from space

May 7, 2008

Envisat captured Cyclone Nargis making its way across the Bay of Bengal just south of Myanmar on 1 May 2008. The cyclone hit the coastal region and ripped through the heart of Myanmar on Saturday, devastating the country.

'Major oil spill' as rig sinks off US coast

April 23, 2010

A blazing oil rig has sunk into the Gulf of Mexico, sparking fears of an environmental disaster two days after a massive blast that left 11 workers missing.

BP struggles to cap leak as US oil slick spreads

April 26, 2010

British oil giant BP used robotic underwater vehicles Monday to try to cap a leaking well and prevent a growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico from developing into an environmental disaster.

Recommended for you

Study calculates the speed of ice formation

August 3, 2015

Researchers at Princeton University have for the first time directly calculated the rate at which water crystallizes into ice in a realistic computer model of water molecules. The simulations, which were carried out on supercomputers, ...

'Snowball earth' might be slushy

August 3, 2015

Imagine a world without liquid water—just solid ice in all directions. It would certainly not be a place that most life forms would like to live.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.