NASA has mobilized its remote-sensing assets to help assess the spread and impact of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico at the request of U.S. disaster response agencies.
As part of the national response to the spill, NASA deployed its instrumented research aircraft the Earth Resources-2 (ER-2) to the Gulf on May 6. The agency is also making extra satellite observations and conducting additional data processing to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Department of Homeland Security in monitoring the spill.
"NASA has been asked to help with the first response to the spill, providing imagery and data that can detect the presence, extent, and concentration of oil," said Michael Goodman, program manager for natural disasters in the Earth Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "We also have longer-term work we have started in the basic research of oil in the ocean and its impacts on sensitive coastal ecosystems."
At NOAA's request, NASA sent the ER-2 outfitted with the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the Cirrus Digital Camera System to collect detailed images of the Gulf of Mexico and its threatened coastal wetlands. The camera system is supplied by NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
NASA pilots flew the ER-2 from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California to a temporary base of operations at Johnson Space Center's Ellington Field in Houston. Along the way, the plane collected data over the Gulf coast and the oil slick to support spill mapping and document the condition of coastal wetlands before oil landfall. The ER-2 made a second flight on May 10 and more flights are planned.
The AVIRIS team led by Robert Green of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is measuring how the water absorbs and reflects light in order to map the location and concentratio
|Contact: Steve Cole|
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center