NASA Technology Helping in Oil Spill Response

Article written: 13 May , 2010
Updated: 22 Jan , 2016
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An advanced optical sensor built by the Jet Propulsion Lab is flying aboard a NASA research aircraft to help monitor the spread and impact of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico via remote sensing. The Earth Resources-2 (ER-2) is outfitted with JPL’s Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the Cirrus Digital Camera System and can collect detailed images of the Gulf of Mexico and its threatened coastal wetlands. NASA is also making extra satellite observations and conducting additional data processing to assist in monitoring the spill.

Researchers will also measure changes in vegetation along the coastline and assess where and how oil may be affecting marshes, swamps, bayous, and beaches that are difficult to survey on the ground. The combination of satellite and airborne imagery will assist NOAA in forecasting the trajectory of the oil and in documenting changes in the ecosystem.

Another NASA research aircraft, the King Air B-200 completed its first flight over the spill on May 10. On board was the High Spectral Resolution Lidar which uses pulses of laser light to locate and identify particles in the environment, and can measure the thickness of the oil spill below the surface of the water and evaluate the impacts of dispersants used to break up the oil.

More information on NASA’s response to the oil spill.

Source: JPL



2 Responses

  1. Member
    Aqua says

    What a mess… Flambo Camarones on a stick anyone? Yeah… just add a flame, they are self cooking Diesel Gumbo?

    It’s ‘too early’ for humor on this… but WHERE is my federal stimulus/investment money behind alternative energy science? DUH? Better yet, why haven’t we mined any He3 from the moon yet? Double DUH!

  2. TerryG says

    It’s ‘too early’ for humor on this…

    Avoid Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, they can’t resist this issue. This is a story that also indites the half hearted and pitiful investment strategy in robotics in the following two respects.

    First, consider the well-head. Humans can’t possibly inspect, service or repair equipment such as a malfunctioning blow-out prevention valves at these crushing depths. Until we perfect the necessary robotics, we can’t be certain how many other bullets we may be dodging in the Gulf and elsewhere around the world.

    Second, did you notice the ER-2 (a variant of the Kelly Johnson’s 1950’s U2) shaking off the cobwebs and stretching it’s wings? NASA has at least one robotic Global Hawk already on station at the Dryden Flight Research Center ref, so come on NASA, start leading the way, rationalize your inventory and fully commit to your new robotic assets.

    Hey North of the border! , can we borrow some Canadarm technicians again?

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