Government // Leadership
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5/6/2010
02:13 PM
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NASA, DHS Assist Oil Spill Cleanup

Infrared-imaging technology from the space agency and geospatial software from the Department of Homeland Security are helping respond to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.




Inside GeoEye's $500 Million Imaging Satellite
(click for image gallery)

Government agencies continued Thursday to contribute technology to the escalating efforts to clean up the oil spill nearing the U.S. Gulf Coast.

At the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NASA will deploy its ER-2 aircraft, which has a specialized infrared scanner that can provide high-resolution photos of the Gulf shoreline, according to a Department of Homeland Security blog post. The DHS has been providing updates on the government's response to the disaster via its blog.

The spill has not yet reached shore, and the technology -- called the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer -- will help forecast the trajectory of the spill. This can help the NOAA predict when it might reach land, according to the post.

NASA also has deployed satellite instruments to detect the extent of the spill and to view specific details about the spill and its damage in selected areas, according to the DHS.

The DHS itself also is participating in the effort to contain the spill through the use of technology. State emergency response officials from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are using software called Virtual USA from the DHS to share geospatial data to coordinate their responses.

On Thursday, oil company BP brought a containment dome to the site of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico to cover the head of the well that's been spewing oil since April 20 so oil can be safely pumped out of the site. The spill was triggered when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, which BP was leasing, exploded and sank, killing 11 people.

NOAA estimates that 220,000 gallons of oil have been spilled into the water each day since the explosion. BP and government and environmental officials are hoping to contain the oil before it reaches the coast.

For Further Reading:

BP Asks DoD For Help With Oil Spill

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