19 May 2010

Is This "NASA" Image Actually a Photo-Shop Fake?

Space.com

NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible satellite image of the Gulf oil spill on May 17 at 16:40 UTC (12:40 p.m. EDT) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Instrument on-board. The oil slick appears as a dull gray on the water's surface and stretches south from the Mississippi Delta with what looks like a tail.
_Space.com

Normally I would not question a Space.com image attributed to NASA, but this particular image has some suspicious features, and so far I have been unable to find the image on the NASA Images website or on the Terra satellite website.
NASA Terra Website

The photo above is what I find on the NASA Terra site, which lacks the long, evil looking tail pictured on the topmost photo.

The problem with that ominous tail that jumps out at you, is that you would expect for the density of the slick to diminish, the further away from the leak site you look. But that is not what happens in the famous topmost photo here. In fact, if you follow the tail down its smooth, dense arc, you find an inexplicable blackness -- like a dark exclamation mark.

If anyone out there has better luck finding the photo in question on an official NASA site, please let me know.

Update: The image below was found at NASA's Earth Observatory site:
On May 17, 2010, when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image, a large patch of oil was visible near the site of the accident, and a long ribbon of oil stretched far to the southeast.

So the image is indeed on an official NASA website. But is the image realistic? I suppose we will find out from subsequent images from the Terra satellite.

If NASA claims the image, we will assume for now that it is real -- even though everything about it screams fake. NASA has made some bizarre claims in the realm of "climate change", so you really have to keep a close watch on government agencies -- particularly in the age of Obama Pelosi. Stay tuned.

Update #2: You can find a fun interactive graphic of the oil spill progression from 22 April 2010 thru 19 May 2010 at the NYTimes. The NOAA graphic for 17 May is not compatible with the NASA image above showing the long "tail".

Update #3: You can see a NOAA graphic of the Gulf Loop Current below:
It appears that the loop current has a small component tending east to west at the tip of the Mississippi delta, and a larger component south of that tending roughly west to east. While ocean currents tend to drift and sway, there really does not appear to be a likely current to explain the shape of the "tail" of the purported satellite image.

Update #4 20May2010: The following image was obtained by radar satellite on 17 May 2010, and you can clearly see the "tail" feature plus a lot of other details that were missing from the topmost natural colour image from NASA's Terra sat. It is the extra detail that one can see in the radarsat image that makes the image much more believable.
Below, you see a radarsat image from 18 May 2010, demonstrating how quickly the shape of the oil slick can change.
H/T WattsupwithThat and blogs.tampabay.com.

Now if we could only get good quality images showing the subsurface oil along with the surface oil, we would have a much better idea of the scope of the total spill as of now.

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7 Comments:

OpenID zoose said...

I would think that there would be a gradual change of color from gray to black on that image.

Probably altered.

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

Right. The black patch seems to be a clear artifact. But there are also several other features of the image which appear incompatible with the natural progression of an oil spill -- even when part of the spill becomes entrained within a "current".

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010  
OpenID snakeoilbaron said...

Could the black tuft at the end of the tail be a reagion where they have used a different form of dispersal agent?

Frankly, I didn't think anyone was still claiming to not use fake photos. I bet that if you zoom in to the right place you can make out a cut and paste image of a witch on a broomstick with Sarah Palin's face superimposed on it.

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010  
Blogger george said...

Artifact. That what we called it when I was in the NAVY working on the SOSUS program.

I downloaded the image anf blew it up in PSP focusing on the black patch.

The image is 72 dpi and I did not see the pixilation I would expect to find on an altered image.

That does not mean it's not altered.

Someone with a couple hours clicking a mouse could have replaced the original pixels one by one.

It's just odd that that black splotch is out there.

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010  
Blogger george said...

Seems this ia NASA's disclaimer:

A coating of oil smoothes the sea surface relative to the oil-free water, causing it to reflect light differently. Depending on where in the sunglint area it occurs, the slick may look brighter or darker than adjacent clean water. In this image, the slick appears as an uneven shape of varying shades of bright gray-beige.

Wednesday, 19 May, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

george: "artifact" as opposed to "artifice?" Perhaps, as regards the black smudge.

As for the too smooth tail-of-an-arc, perhaps NASA is trying to say that it is analogous to a rainbow -- just an accidental artifact of sun angle. A "sheen-bow" as it were.

Thursday, 20 May, 2010  
Blogger ch. said...

i see no reason for fakery from NASA, and the grey/black variations seem like a natural result of relative reflection angles.

i work in image enhancement and retouching and i can find no traces of fakery.

Friday, 21 May, 2010  

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