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Gulf oil spill: Could NASA come to the rescue?

As the Gulf oil crisis grows, NASA’s unrivalled expertise and experience in extreme remote environments make it a great candidate to fix the leak.

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Eager to avoid the public relations disaster that decked the Bush administration in the wake of hurricane Katrina, the Obama White House has made a great effort to be on top of the oil crisis in the Gulf. The government has mobilized the usual suspects – the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard – and pried open the usual cans of alphabet soup: the NOAA, EPA, MMS, etc.

But, one arrangement of letters is missing from the mix: NASA.

The “aeronautic” in the National Aeronautic and Space Administration seems to explain why: NASA’s place is in outer space, not inner space. But it may well be that these two frontiers – weightless vacuum versus watery depths – actually share common ground. While BP faces a vast environmental and financial crisis, NASA faces a profound institutional and identity crisis. These crises could lead to a mutual solution. At the very least, NASA’s experience could now be tapped to help the oil industry avoid future catastrophes.

IN PICTURES: The Gulf Oil Spill

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