We beg your patience. Our main source of imagery is from the NASA satellites, Terra and Aqua, that carry the MODIS sensor. This sensor measures visible to infrared wavelengths of light, so when it’s cloudy or hazy in the Gulf, we get a nice picture of…clouds and haze. MODIS images also show a distinct pattern of glittery sunglint on the water (when there are no clouds in the way, and the geometry with the sun is just right). This can be very useful for mapping oil slicks because the oil flattens out the water, and will appear either very dark or very bright (depending, again, on the sun angle). But other things can make the water flat: calm winds, for example. So if we get a MODIS image that suffers from too many of these quality problems, we don’t process and post it because it’s not providing useful information about the spill.
See our Twitter feed (just glance to your right!) – that’s where we post updates and info that’s briefer and more timely than these blog entries. Follow us on Twitter and when we know it, you’ll know it.