As the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues to encroach on the Gulf Coast, crewmembers of the International Space Station were able to photograph it from their perch more than 200 miles above the Earth.
The image released by NASA and taken by Expedition 23 crewmember and flight engineer Soichi Noguchi clearly show the slick approaching the Mississippi River delta. This image, along with others taken by NASA and NOAA satellites since the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico allow officials to monitor the movement of the slick.
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig has allowed 5,000 barrels per day to flow into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The original cause of the accident is still unknown however a blow-out preventer designed to stop the flow of oil in the event of an accident apparently did not activate as it should have.
As the slick continues to threaten the coast, its economic impact is already being felt. NOAA has shut down all commercial fishing in a large area between the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana and Pensacola, Florida.
Related (Examiner.com): NOAA and NASA satellites tasked with monitoring Gulf of Mexico oil spill
International Space Station crew captures images of Gulf Oil slick (NASA)
Image above: The Mississippi River Delta and nearby Louisiana coast appear dark in the sunglint. This phenomenon is caused by sunlight reflecting off the water surface, in a mirror-like manner, directly back towards the astronaut observer aboard the International Space Station. The sunglint improves the identification of the oil spill which is creating a different water texture (and therefore a contrast) between the smooth and rougher water of the reflective ocean surface. (NASA)