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French, Chinese Satellite Images May Show Malaysian Jet Debris

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the lot-of-ocean-out-there dept.

Transportation 103

Bloomberg News reports that "French satellite scans provided fresh indications of objects adrift in part of the Indian Ocean that's being scoured for the missing Malaysian airliner, backing up Chinese evidence as more planes and ships join the hunt. ... The developments rekindled prospects for a breakthrough in the mystery of Malaysian Air (MAS) Flight 370 after radar and visual scans failed to find objects spotted in earlier images taken from space. Searchers, bolstered by a growing fleet of international vessels, also want to locate a wooden pallet seen from the air to check if it could have come from the jet's hold." And if you have your own database of recent photos to trawl through, the article says "The Chinese photo, taken March 18, is focused 90 degrees east and almost 45 degrees south, versus almost 91 degrees east and 44 degrees south for similar items on a March 16 satellite image, putting the object 120 kilometers southwest of that sighting."

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Great Headline (1, Flamebait)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 7 months ago | (#46557113)

If only it matched up to a great story. Anyone have any geek news?

Re:Great Headline (4, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#46557125)

yes, with the state of the art in 2014, entire commercial jets can disappear without a trace and might never be found

Re:Great Headline (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557141)

The NSA knows where it is.

So do the aliens who abducted it.

None of them are telling.

Re:Great Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557311)

Mod up pleeze. This story has turned into the orgy that fuels the spree US media wants to be.

Re: Great Headline (2)

JWW (79176) | about 7 months ago | (#46557377)

Yep, the talking heads can yak all day long and never be proven wrong.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 7 months ago | (#46559909)

Mod up pleeze. This story has turned into the orgy that fuels the spree US media wants to be.

They were hoping a little blonde girl would be kidnapped or murdered, but they had to settle for a missing airplane mostly full of foreigners.

And with it missing at sea, they can't even pose a teddy bear in photos of the wreckage.

Great Headline: Just not if you're Ukrainian (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46560371)

CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News are all covering it to the exclusion of most everything else... notably the Russian takeover of Crimea.

Ironically, there's a great deal of focus on Al-Jazeera cable news about the Ukrainian's plight.

Sorry about that living Ukrainians, a missing planeload of likely deceased people is stealing the limelight.

Re:Great Headline: Just not if you're Ukrainian (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 7 months ago | (#46562763)

The Crimean story isn't sexy.

But beyond that there's really nothing to it. It is what it is one the face. People can speculate but the truth is that the disarmament treaty that Ukraine signed had no teeth to ensure sovereignty was protected. Outside of any implications this might have regarding nuclear proliferation there's not much more of interest to it.

Re:Great Headline (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46557313)

yes, with the state of the art in 2014, entire commercial jets can disappear without a trace and might never be found

Well, the ocean is a big place, and generally devoid of radar. The airliner almost certainly had ADS-B and that can be tracked by satellite (though I have no idea if there is coverage over the southern Indian Ocean). The problem is that when the crew deliberately turns it off or it fails, what are you going to do?

A breakaway ELT would make a lot of sense. Heck, you can buy them for personal use these days - not that it would do the passengers much good if the pilot were determined to commit suicide.

Re:Great Headline (1)

itsme1234 (199680) | about 7 months ago | (#46557525)

What is the "breakaway" ELT? I know about modern PLBs, those are nice but won't reach far from inside the plane.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46557711)

A PLB would be handy if you actually got out of the plane though, which is really the only time you as a still-living individual will care about being located anyway.

By breakaway I mean an externally-located device designed to detach if the plane sinks and float on the surface.

There are other options as well - like a device that detects deceleration, rapid descent, or other abnormal conditions and transmits the plane's location. With satellite monitoring you don't really need that to even survive long - if a single ping makes it to a satellite that is enough to alert rescuers. For commercial aircraft the odd false alarm wouldn't cause any problems - those monitoring the device would check in with the appropriate ATC who would make contact with the aircraft if they aren't already in contact and see if all is well.

Of course, it would make just as much sense to have an always-on beacon. If they're really worried about electrical faults just give it a decent battery and isolate it, and put the access panel to replace the battery someplace convenient like right next to a door (on the outside of the plane).

Re:Great Headline (2)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 7 months ago | (#46559767)

We're fixated on the technological fixes- emergency locator beacons, satellite tracking devices. So why are so few people talking about the obvious: the psychology of the crew? Whoever hijacked this airplane was familiar with piloting a 777 and familiar with the route, which points to the pilot or the copilot stealing their own plane, then deliberately crashing it in the Indian Ocean.

This would not be the first pilot suicide, either; EgyptAir Flight 990 and SilkAir 185 are both believed to be pilot suicide. In the EgyptAir crash, the First Officer shut down the engines and the plane went into a dive. In the SilkAir crash, the plane went into a power dive and descended so steeply and rapidly it actually broke the sound barrier and disintegrated the plane on impact— they didn't even get a single complete body.

Since 9/11 all the effort has been devoted to protecting the pilots from the passengers, but what about protecting passengers from the pilots? The SilkAir crash killed 114 people, the EgyptAir crash killed 217 people, and MH killed 239 people. That's 3 planes and 570 people taken out by pilots- versus 2 planes and 227 civilians taken out by terrorists in the same timespan. These numbers suggest that you're more likely to be killed by your pilot than your fellow passengers. The message seems to be clear: the most dangerous person on any flight isn't the dude with the turban, it's the guy with the captain's hat.

Incidentally, there's a really disturbing parallel between the SilkAir murder-suicide and MH 370- safety systems designed to monitor the flight, in the case of the SilkAir flight, the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, were both manually shut down. That raises a disturbing possibility- unless they've changed things since the SilkAir crash, the person piloting MH 370 would have been able to shut down both the flight data recorder and voice recorder. That means that even if we find the black boxes, they may contain no useful information.

Re:Great Headline (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 7 months ago | (#46560307)

Pilot suicide has been a theory from the beginning of the investigation.

They don't need to turn off the voice recorder either, just keep quiet for 2 hours until the tape rolls around.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46561019)

Aircraft safety is getting close to the point where pilots cause more problems than they resolve. If you made aircraft completely autonomous I'm not convinced that it would decrease the safety of flying at all. It would probably change the liability picture, however.

It is only a matter of time before cars are in the same position.

Oh, and it is ridiculous that the cockpit voice recorder only lasts two hours. They should make it illegal to access except by the NTSB/etc, and make it last the full flight duration. The only reason it is shorter is privacy concerns, which are legitimate, but those can be solved in better ways.

Re:Great Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46567331)

That's 3 planes and 570 people taken out by pilots- versus 2 planes and 227 civilians taken out by terrorists in the same timespan. blaH blah blah crap blah.

I believe the death toll from 9/11 was of the order of 3,000 people...lest we forget...

Re:Great Headline (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 7 months ago | (#46563101)

Unfortunately there's not much of a reason to use them.

In flight accidents and crashes have the lowest survival rates. That's just a simple fact due to the forces involved. Those that survive the impact are likely to have sustained fatal injuries that will kill them if they aren't in intensive care within hours.

So the major reason is not the rescue effort but the recovery of the recording devices to check and see if the problem was mechanical or human error.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 7 months ago | (#46559921)

The problem is that when the crew deliberately turns it off or it fails, what are you going to do?

Why does the crew have the capability of turning essential equipment off?

Re: Great Headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46560195)

The transponders get shut off when the aircraft is on the ground. It reduces the clutter on the ATC radars. Pilots have always had a switch for it in the cockpit.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46561005)

Besides disabling it on-ground, the concern is that anything on the main bus needs to be able to be powered off in case of an electrical problem. If that transmitter develops a short it could take out the entire bus, start a fire, etc. That's the concept at least - certainly there are workarounds.

Re:Great Headline (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46557725)

To be fair someone may have taken steps to make sure it won't be found.

Re:Great Headline (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#46566617)

quite possibly, but that becomes very easy over open sea far from land. over most land it becomes damn near impossible

Optimizing for the rare case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46558509)

The world does not prioritize for the 90-second attention span MTV generation. If jets disappeared for good regularly, it would make sense to lojack them. But because they don't, it doesn't. Sorry, you'll need to wait for after the commercial break to see what happened.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Alomex (148003) | about 7 months ago | (#46558641)

Well it already happened twice in the last three years, (AF447, MH370) so we know the answer that one: yes it may very well happen.

However you don't like a version of reality where one can lose planes in the middle of the ocean and reject the evidence, and other people bask in this self-comfort and give you a +4 insightful.

Re: Great Headline (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | about 7 months ago | (#46560301)

Wreckage of AF447 (including bodies) was found within the first couple of days, so they knew for certain there was a water impact and approximately where. It took time to find the main wreckage, but it was located, and in fact new analysis of sonar data collected by a French sub within the first week after the crash was critical in finding it. The sonar had heard the FDR pings, but it was below the equipment's identification threshold at the time.

Here, a water impact is presumed but not certain. Aside from the engine pings, there's very little to go on, and even the satellite images and the civilian sighting of a pallet and belts the other day may be nothing more than shipping equipment that fell overboard.

Re: Great Headline (1)

Alomex (148003) | about 7 months ago | (#46564701)

This plane was lost in a much larger ocean and out of place to where it was supposed to be, so naturally it will take a bit longer to find the first remains. So I'm not sure what is your point.

Re:Great Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46560919)

Hey where is The West's hand puppet India?
India is suppose to be the regional power balance to China, but it's completely invisible and letting the Chicoms grab all the operations headlines.

Re:Great Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46562021)

Chicom == Rush Limbaugh fanatic. Nothing to see here; please move along.

Re:Great Headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557143)

At least we start to get some focus on all that garbage floating around in the sea

Re:Great Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557147)

If only it matched up to a great story. Anyone have any geek news?

It got you to read and comment.

Guess it's not so beneath you after all, eh?

Re:Great Headline (3, Informative)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 7 months ago | (#46557199)

In my world geek news sources it's information - "The Chinese photo" would be shown or linked to. GPS coordinates would be accurate not "almost" a vague coordinate. The linked article is a bad rehash of 3rd party information - it's generic mainstream "news" to sell ads to people who can't tell the difference between a well researched detailed story and a piece of abstracted reworded junk.

Re:Great Headline (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 7 months ago | (#46557233)

Feel free to contribute !

Re:Great Headline (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46558157)

This article has the picture released by China [nypost.com] , coordinates are stamped on the picture: 90deg 13' 43" E / 44deg 57' 29" S. Those positions are now dated due to expected drift of any debris in the local currents and wind.

Here's earlier satellite photos with coordinates from DigitalGlobe, as released by the Australian search team [reuters.com] (Australian Maritime Safety Authority - AMSA).

The AMSA is coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean and all their AMSA news updates are here [amsa.gov.au] , and images/maps are here [amsa.gov.au] , including the cumulative area searched as of March 23 [amazonaws.com] [PDF].

The information is out there if you go looking.

Re:Great Headline (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about 7 months ago | (#46559303)

^this is infinitely better than the summary/article linked to.

Re:Great Headline (5, Informative)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 7 months ago | (#46559507)

In my world geek news sources it's information - "The Chinese photo" would be shown or linked to. GPS coordinates would be accurate not "almost" a vague coordinate.

Jup. Pretty much all reporting on this is abysmal, from painfully simplified to just plain wrong and misleading.

One thing I haven't seen correct in any non-aviation specific publication:
The aircraft didn't send pings to the Inmarsat satellite, it replied
to pings by the Inmarsat satellite. It's an important detail:
That's why we know the roundtrip times.


One of best sources - maybe even the best source - is The Aviation Herald:
Malaysia B772 over Gulf of Thailand on Mar 8th 2014, aircraft missing, high degree of certainty: deliberate action [avherald.com]

All images (including the new one) are there, all known technical information (times, positions, etc.) is there.
Updated information is highlighted with a light yellow background.

The most amazing thing: As far as I know, avherald.com is a one-man operation.

The only working complete theory (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557115)

The following theory posted on slashdot appears to put the pieces together:
http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]

Re:The only working complete theory (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 7 months ago | (#46557207)

Why o why didn't you just say it was your failed theory instead of trying to promote it as an AC?

You know what's fun? Running textual analysis on slashdot to uncover ACs.

Re:The only working complete theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46563547)

Hi, since you are new to Slashdot, perhaps you should be notified that it's actually considered good form to link to old, relevant comments rather than repost them, and it is also polite etiquette not use you karma to amplify your old comments. It's also not good form to behave like an arrogant troll, especially when the comment you are replying to contains meaningful content.

Fire theory is for idiots and retards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46558265)

Any theory based on fire is only held by the utterly retarded such as yourself, a fire cannot take all out all electronics and still leave the plane flying for seen hours. How can you soil yourself posting that crap again after you were utterly dismissed?

Headline writing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557117)

Is it common for the headline to have lists of things and be in the format like "French, Chinese" instead of "French and Chinese"? I'm from Finland and that writing style always confuses me when browsing through the headlines.

Re:Headline writing (4, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 7 months ago | (#46557139)

I'm from Finland and that writing style always confuses me when browsing through the headlines.

Great comment.

In English headline writing, using 'headlinese' it's traditional to take liberties with the language that wouldn't normally be allowed. This dates back to newspapers, when the number of characters available to you for a headline might have been reduced due to the large typefaces or the desire to create impact to sell a newspaper - So you would have seen headlines like this one, or oddities like:

SATELLITES SIGHT DEBRIS: CHINESE

The tradition continues today, even though it's largely an online world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Headline writing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557361)

Great comment.

Great pedantry.

Re:Headline writing (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 7 months ago | (#46557771)

Actually, it's the adoption of Klingon battle-speak.

Re:Headline writing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46560249)

It's more than that. Traditional headline writers pay very close attention to the width of all the characters they select (for instance, m is wider than i), with the aim of producing something that is both informative and exactly fits in the reserved space. Those are the conditions which led to the development of headlinese. Back in the day, newspapers would keep dedicated headline writers on staff.

Re:Headline writing (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 months ago | (#46560365)

In English headline writing, using 'headlinese' it's traditional to take liberties with the language that wouldn't normally be allowed.

Another reason this is done is to confuse you into taking an interest in the article's contents (so you can figure out what the headline actually means). Especially when it is a front page headline, where such confusion might involve buying a copy of the newspaper.

Re:Headline writing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557173)

Is it common for the headline to have lists of things and be in the format like "French, Chinese" instead of "French and Chinese"? I'm from Finland and that writing style always confuses me when browsing through the headlines.

Using the comma gets the same information across with less words/space used.

I suspect that similar things are done by newspapers all over the world as long as the language in use supports such "compression".

Re:Headline writing (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 7 months ago | (#46560005)

It''s called "telegraphic speech", as if the writer didn't want to pay for the extra characters.

Newspapers do it for space: the bigger the typeface, the less room for text.

I suspect it carries over to internet articles because of cognitive side-effects: if every headline was a complete sentence they would take more effort on the readers' part. You want something that will instantly grab (or lose) a reader's attention without any mental effort on their part.

(Look at how many people don't RTFA, or even RTFSummary. Full sentences would lead to people who don't even RTFHeadline.)

However, telegraphic speech can cause problems for readers.

Evidence that media cycle is useless (0, Flamebait)

sinij (911942) | about 7 months ago | (#46557131)

Jet is missing, not a regular occurrence but this is not a world-changing event that warrants such extensive coverage. This disappearance will not affect many lives or change the course of history. Enough already.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (3, Insightful)

manquer (1950350) | about 7 months ago | (#46557167)

since when is news is about what impacts the most number of people ?

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (5, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#46557185)

historically, the "without a trace" missing aircraft were much smaller, couple cases with 90 passenger the biggest I can find. so this is someone newsworthy just due to size of craft.

but it is amusing to see how people think all aircraft everywhere are continually "tracked by radar" (see, this website does that!), and they wonder why it takes days to go to a place where satellites have spotted debris

they've been trained by TV entertainment to think all problems can be resolved in one hour less commercials.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557609)

Or, we've seen that we can and are more than willing to send a missile across the entire planet to target a person's cell phone who may or more likely doesn't have anything to do with terrorism. We can track people every place they go with their cell phones to within 3 meters. So yes, it's pretty fucking amazing when you lose over 200 people and a giant metal object that not only responds to gps and satellite but actually transmits it's location.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 7 months ago | (#46568025)

you're confused

the maintenance system only sent brief messages not designed to be tracked every 30 minutes.

there is no continuous tracking of most commercial jet aircraft

As for your nonsense about "missile across planet to target cell phone", no, hellfire missiles with range of all of 8 km were used....local assets necessary, not applicable in any way shape or form to problem of plane missing over open sea.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (2)

houghi (78078) | about 7 months ago | (#46557681)

Why don't they look at the image and just let somebody say 'enhance'. Somebody has to say it, because nobody else thinks of doing that. That and just direct some satelites over that area.

Re: Evidence that media cycle is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46559215)

Turn Hubble around!

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (4, Funny)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 7 months ago | (#46557215)

Hey, if the mothership that causes the bermuda triangle is on the move we ALL need to know!!

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557477)

Hey, if the mothership that causes the bermuda triangle is on the move we ALL need to know!!

Umm, I thought this pseudoscience was common knowledge..

http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/mapas_ocultotierra/esp_mapa_ocultotierra_11.htm

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557257)

Jet is missing, not a regular occurrence but this is not a world-changing event that warrants such extensive coverage. This disappearance will not affect many lives or change the course of history. Enough already.

What annoys me more is how every day that someone or some government sees a piece of trash in the ocean from satellite images, it's pushed as headliner news with absurd speculation lasting for hours that it could be a breakthrough in the search... Until inevitably it's confirmed to not be airplane wreckage. I'm not against news coverage, but at this point the media seems to be drumming up every little thing in an effort to keep the hysteria around the story alive. This article is just the latest in the cycle.

Re: Evidence that media cycle is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557451)

Amen! This must be torture for the families. Every other day they get hope, then it turns out to be false. Basically shut the fuck up until you've found definitive proof of the jet.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (3, Insightful)

Fishchip (1203964) | about 7 months ago | (#46557639)

What annoys me more is how every day that someone or some government sees a piece of trash in the ocean from satellite images, it's pushed as headliner news with absurd speculation lasting for hours that it could be a breakthrough in the search... Until inevitably it's confirmed to not be airplane wreckage

This. A wooden pallet? It's like people think the surface of the ocean is pristine and doesn't have any sort of other debris floating on it at all. I would wager one random wooden pallet has a 100% chance of not being from MH370.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 7 months ago | (#46559517)

It is possible but there is not that much of wooden pallets that go around where it was 'seen'. I dare say it was the only one around that was spotted so maybe there is something to it.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | about 7 months ago | (#46559991)

We're talking about a vast search area, maybe the size of Texas or larger, depending on how generous you want to be in drawing the boundaries. What are the odds that you cover an area that large with satellites and don't find *something* floating? Whether it's from the plane seems less likely. What are the odds that over two weeks after the plane crashes into the ocean, wreckage is still afloat? In rough water, it will tend to break up, fill with water, and sink. There's also the possibility that the pilot put the plane into a power dive like in the SilkAir murder-suicide. In that case the plane would be broken up into thousands of fragments. Some of the pieces would probably float, but they'd be so small you'd never be able to spot them.

There are plenty of likely scenarios where we never find a scrap of the flight, or maybe an isolated scrap drifts up months or years later and two thousand miles away. And every day without recovery of wreckage, those scenarios become more likely.

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46563175)

As a citizen of the country of Texas, I'm thankful to you for supporting the meme "Everything's bigger in Texas." (That's our story ladies and we're sticking to it.)

Re:Evidence that media cycle is useless (1)

gtall (79522) | about 7 months ago | (#46559101)

While the mere disappearance isn't a big deal, why it disappeared could be. In particular, we'd rather like to prevent it happening again.

The sad thing.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557205)

is that it could take a couple of YEARS of searching, to actually locate this aircraft and get explanations for the families to what happened. It is unrealistic to expect it to be found next week or something. It took 2 years to locate the Air France Flight 447 fuselage underwater and they had a pretty reasonable idea where it was likely to be... they found significant debris about 5 days after it went down.

Re:The sad thing.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557989)

In one of the numerous documentaries about AF447 I learned that it had been silently decided that no more searches would be conducted after the one which turned out to be successful. Such searches are not exactly cheap. It was also interesting to learn that the robot they used to find it basically combed a large area autonomously and recorded the entire "lawn mowing" (their term) and the recording was then examined afterwards. It also had some logic for detecting possible debris and consequently combing those areas again in greater detail without intervention from the surface.

What makes me wonder with the current search operation is why there aren't any suitable drones to use. Hasn't one of the advantages of drones been that they can be in the sky for longer periods of time than human pilots flying surveillance aircraft? Because based on news reporting, the area is so far from the closest airport that the search aircraft spend four fifths of their fuel on the trips back and forth to the area, which is quite inefficient. In the future there of course will be and maybe large ships will even be mandated to have a search drone on board for use in man over board situations. I just thought the military already had suitable drones and that their existence wasn't a secret. Satellite capabilities clearly are and if any military vessel just "happens" to find the wreckage quickly, I will suspect that it wasn't just luck...

Seems like drones would be great for this (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46558289)

I agree that it seems like this is a perfect use for drones, and the image recognition algorithms they have developed...

It seems a little far-fetched, but it's not too hard to imagine a future where we have drones monitoring large areas of the oceans all the time. We could then have constantly updating information about what was already in the ocean, so if something like this happened we would know what was new vs having to look at every bit of debris. It also would be useful in tacking down boats lost at sea, you could have more of a starting point about where they were before they went missing - and the drones could act as radio relays for mayday signals.

Lots of people would freak out about having all boats monitored though, so perhaps it will never happen.

Re:The sad thing.. (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46558815)

I'm not aware of any production military drones that have that kind of endurance/range. There are things like solar-powered prop drones that can stay aloft for a very long time, but they are slow, and I imagine that they go where the wind blows (winds aloft can be 50mph+, so a slow aircraft can't really maintain position).

Google suggests that the range of a predator is only 1100 miles. That wouldn't even be a round-trip to the search area.

Global hawk could do the job. However, I don't know how many of those are in the inventory and how busy they are elsewhere, or for that matter how operational they even are.

But yes, this would be the perfect mission for drones if you had enough of them. At least, they'd be useful for looking on the surface. If you want to use any kind of sonar then you'd need ships/subs.

Re:The sad thing.. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#46561121)

It took 2 years to locate the Air France Flight 447 fuselage underwater

No, not really. It took about eight weeks - scattered across two years because weather, the availability of the required equipment, and bureaucratic issues.

kilometers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557219)

120 kilometers = 74.5 miles. Not everyone uses kilometers. Just saying.

Re:kilometers? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#46557269)

Oh get over it, they chose a unit. You're not going to complain that they didn't convert into lesser, middle and grate miles too are you? (yes, other archaic civilisations used 3 different miles).

Re:kilometers? (1)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | about 7 months ago | (#46558619)

Should have used furlongs... you'd getter bigger numbers that way - and we all know bigger is better ;^D

Re: kilometers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557517)

No one gives a fuck about you you stupid fat American

Re: kilometers? (1)

drsmack1 (698392) | about 7 months ago | (#46557717)

If you thought people would agree with you, why didn't you post under your own account to reap the sweet, sweet karma?

Re:kilometers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46559203)

Fuck off and join the civilised world already. Miles is for uneducated buffons.

Re:kilometers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46560743)

No, but they should.

Re:kilometers? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 7 months ago | (#46560911)

Not always. Aviation uses nautical miles, [wikipedia.org] and 120 kilometers = 64.79+ nautical miles.

I pray they find it soon (2, Informative)

p51d007 (656414) | about 7 months ago | (#46557263)

For the sake of the families, nothing more. They've been through hell with the stupid 24 hour we have to find something to report on news media. CNN did a story how some thought a black hole swallowed up the plane? The problem with most of the media these days, is regardless of accuracy, they want to be the first one on the air, with a theory, no matter how stupid it sounds.

Normal situation (3, Interesting)

gerardrj (207690) | about 7 months ago | (#46557293)

Curious: If you were to point a bunch of satellites at any part of the open ocean and have dozens or hundreds of analysts pore over those images would they find exactly the type of "possible objects" that we are seeing in this situation? Is there any part of the ocean where it is not possible to actually locate human debris such as wood pallets scraps of metal and such.

Remember: we still have tons (literally) of trash from the tsunami floating around out there.

Beyond that, why do ALL the media outlets take government statements such as "possible object", meaning the analysts can't agree that there is an actual thing there and the spot isn't just a light glare, and instead report "it could be a wing". From 'not sure it exists' to 'it could be the plane'.

This all seems like the Washington DC sniper investigation and the "white van" syndrome all over again.

Re:Normal situation (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46557399)

Is there any part of the ocean where it is not possible to actually locate human debris such as wood pallets scraps of metal and such.

One thing that astonished me on reading Shackleton's "South", about his expedition that ended in 1916, was that he found an assortment of rubbish such as broken planks of wood and portions of crates washed into an inlet on the South Coast of South Georgia. It mostly wasn't specific shipwreck rubbish but rubbish in general. The search area is almost as far south as South Georgia.

Re:Normal situation (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 months ago | (#46560613)

The search area is almost as far south as South Georgia.

In the same way that Portland, Oregon is almost as far north as Edmonton, Canada, or Barcelona, Spain is almost as far north as Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK. Funny how lack of land skews your perception, isn't it?

Re:Normal situation (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46557645)

The most level headed news outlets have been saying that most of these objects are probably just containers. Tens of thousands get lost every year and some of them float rather nicely.

Re:Normal situation (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#46561133)

Actually, there's no hard statistics about how many containers are lost each year... and several of the targets have been significantly larger than containers anyhow.

Re:Normal situation (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | about 7 months ago | (#46557951)

Yes. Lot's of stuff is floating around the ocean. It seems particularly unlikely that large pieces of aircraft fuselage are floating in the ocean, over two weeks after the plane went down, and after heavy storms. The satellite is probably finding wales, bits of long cap-sized ships, sea weed, parts of shipping containers lost at sea, etc. This is the third or fourth time in this search that the satellites have found objects at sea that have not come from MH370.

If they find smaller debris, like the parts of seats and life-preservers, then it is much more likely that they have found the aircraft crash site.

Another issue is that satellite bandwidth is expensive. I don't think the satellite providers bother to download surface scans of the Indian Ocean on a continuous basis. Thus, even if a satellite was in position to capture the crash, it is unlikely that it bothered to down-link the data.

Re:Normal situation (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46558827)

Curious: If you were to point a bunch of satellites at any part of the open ocean and have dozens or hundreds of analysts pore over those images would they find exactly the type of "possible objects" that we are seeing in this situation?

Quite possible - I'm sure there is other junk on the water. The other issue is that there aren't exactly tons of satellites flying around, and when they're zoomed in sufficiently to actually see debris they can't image a very large area. Basically you can capture a long stripe of data which is only so wide but as long as you want it to be. If the image is only a half-mile wide, and the search area is 100 miles in every direction, then you need 200 passes to image it. Of course, nothing prevents debris from floating from an area you didn't check into an area you checked already, so you're basically just hoping to get lucky.

Re:Normal situation (1)

khchung (462899) | about 7 months ago | (#46560603)

Beyond that, why do ALL the media outlets take government statements such as "possible object", meaning the analysts can't agree that there is an actual thing there and the spot isn't just a light glare, and instead report "it could be a wing". From 'not sure it exists' to 'it could be the plane'.

Cuz that sell eyeballs? Which is more attract to Joe Public - "It could be a wing!" or "Meh, likely nothing found"?

Do you still have that quaint idea that "news" is for informing people and reporters are supposed to be objective and level-headed, or even, (gasp!) competent in subject knowledge being reported? It hasn't been that way for at least decades already.

Why does everyone think the aircraft crashed? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557417)

Does it make any sense at all that the person piloting the plane when it lost communications would make a u-turn, then fly another 3-4-5(?) hours just to crash it in a different spot? I heard this objection voiced early in the investigation but since then there hasn't been another word.

In addition to that, the shroud of secrecy surrounding the incident is bizarre. I can't help thinking that more has happened than is generally known. This incident makes no sense no matter how you look at it.

NR

nope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557433)

The plane flew north and landed.

Re: nope (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557469)

Yeah and there's a nuke on it now and its headed for the USA. And because we don't know which country did it, we must bomb all of them that could have done it. Fox news told me so.

ask people at... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557437)

Diego Garcia

Tomnod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557497)

If you want access to the latest satellite imagery and/or want to to help with the search, I highly suggest joking Tomnod [tomnod.com] , DigitalGlobe's crowd sourced interpretation project.

Good stuff, but to much like "work work" for me, since I do a lot of interpretation in my day-to-day work.

The word you're looking for is "and" (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 7 months ago | (#46557527)

French, Chinese...

For the sake of three characters? It's not like you're paying for the ink.

Re:The word you're looking for is "and" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557621)

That's a standard news-style headline. Not just for saving ink but for brevity (AFAIK).

Re:The word you're looking for is "and" (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 7 months ago | (#46557707)

Fewer characters means they can use a bigger more eye-catching font.

Re:The word you're looking for is "and" (1)

Kittenman (971447) | about 7 months ago | (#46559403)

French, Chinese...

For the sake of three characters? It's not like you're paying for the ink.

Hey, them pixels aren't cheap, y'know!

NSA hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557575)

One might wonder if the disappearance is the result of agency hacking into system and screwing with the navigational circuits.

Re: NSA hacking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46558065)

Yeh, perhaps they thought they were just hacking a simple Chinese flight simulator...

It's easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46557601)

Just wait a few months & then visit the Gyre...

pics for nerds (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 7 months ago | (#46557701)

"And if you have your own database of recent photos to trawl through, the article says "The Chinese photo, taken March 18, is focused 90 degrees east and almost 45 degrees south, versus almost 91 degrees east and 44 degrees south for similar items on a March 16 satellite image, putting the object 120 kilometers southwest of that sighting.""

what?? a database??

I'M BEHIND SEVEN DATABASES BIOTCHS!

Irony (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 months ago | (#46558933)

Heading over to the Bloomberg link to see the video, and what is the ad they have ? One for Delta Airlines.

The plane passed in another dimension (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46562303)

According to a transmission from Ashtar, it seems the plane was taken to another dimension and the passengers have been relocated in another world.

Google it.

Jasa Pembuatan Website (0)

arbomedia (3590583) | about 7 months ago | (#46562807)

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