The mission to map the spreading oil slick that's tainted large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico includes the South Carolina wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

Wing members last week photographed a 50-mile by 50-mile grid of the spill, which is continuing to grow off the coasts of Alabama and Louisiana.

Using high-tech cameras, crews aboard a Gippsland GA-8 Airvan cruised at 2,500 feet, recording images that helped document the oil and tar-ball movement. The data was then used to help the Coast Guard determine where best to place countermeasures.

The photos provide "a mosaic map of the surface of the water," said Col. Emerson Smith of the Civil Air Patrol in South Carolina.

Read more in tomorrow's Post and Courier.