This image, from NASA's Terra spacecraft, was acquired May 1, 2010. An explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil platform operating in the offshore in Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.

On April 20, 2010, an explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon oil platform operating in the Gulf of Mexico 80 kilometers (50 miles) offshore, killing 11 crew members, and releasing 5,000 barrels of oil per day into the water. The huge oil slick was being carried towards the Mississippi River Delta, and was expected to reach the Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi shores as early as Monday, May 3. This image, from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft, was acquired May 1, 2010. It is located at 29.0 degrees north latitude, 88.3 degrees west longitude. The image covers an area of 79.1 by 103.9 kilometers (49 by 64.4 miles).

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched December 18, 1999, on NASA's Terra. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and the data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The ASTER U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.

More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.

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