acquired May 17, 2010
By May 17, 2010, the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico had spread south, extending a long tendril well south of the oil platform where the April 20 accident occurred. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image. A substantial portion of the slick lingers near the Mississippi Delta. An long, relatively thin extension of the slick stretches toward the southeast.
Sunglint—sunlight bouncing off the ocean surface and into the satellite sensor—helps illuminate the slick. A coating of oil smoothes the sea surface relative to the oil-free water, causing it to reflect light differently. In this image, the slick appears as an uneven shape of varying shades of gray-beige.