<p>Like cream poured into coffee, oil swirls in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Louisiana coast, as seen in a recently released picture taken by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi last Tuesday. Low clouds hover over the Gulf at bottom left.<br><br> NASA and other <a id="r0ab" title="satellites have been tracking the Gulf oil spill from space" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/photogalleries/100504-gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-environment-nation-pictures/#gulf-oil-spill-satellite-picture-timeline-april-21_19871_600x450.jpg">satellites have been tracking the Gulf oil spill from space</a>, but the astronaut photo, taken from aboard the <a id="q57q" title="International Space Station" href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html">International Space Station</a>, offers a different angle on the situation. Taken obliquely, or from a side view, the shot captures fine ribbons of dark oil amid lighter-hued waters gleaming with reflected sunlight.</p><p>By contrast, satellite pictures are usually taken with a nadir, or straight-down facing, view.<br><br><strong><a id="u8.y" title="Get more Gulf oil spill coverage >>" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/gulf-oil-spill-news/">See more Gulf oil spill coverage &gt;&gt;</a></strong></p>

Swirling Oil Spill

Like cream poured into coffee, oil swirls in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Louisiana coast, as seen in a recently released picture taken by Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi last Tuesday. Low clouds hover over the Gulf at bottom left.

NASA and other satellites have been tracking the Gulf oil spill from space, but the astronaut photo, taken from aboard the International Space Station, offers a different angle on the situation. Taken obliquely, or from a side view, the shot captures fine ribbons of dark oil amid lighter-hued waters gleaming with reflected sunlight.

By contrast, satellite pictures are usually taken with a nadir, or straight-down facing, view.

See more Gulf oil spill coverage >>

Photograph courtesy NASA

Space Photos This Week: Gulf Oil Spill, Star Birth, More

An astronaut spies the Gulf oil spill, a runaway star gets caught, the sun erupts with a twist, and more in the week's best space pictures.

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