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Image : Mixing Oil and Water

satellite image of oil spill
Satellite radar images show the extent of the 2002 Prestige oil spill along a 30-mile stretch of the northwest coast of Spain. The slick (black areas) is visible because the oil smooths the ocean surface. The surface of clean water appears bright because it scatters and reflects light back towards the satellite. Oil can have wildly different impacts depending on where it is spilled and what the weather is doing in the hours and days afterward. (Courtesy: RADARSAT / Canadian Space Agency.)


Last updated: May 24, 2011

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