Thursday, August 17, 2017

MH370: satellite images show 'probably man-made' objects floating in sea

Reports prepared by Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO analyse French satellite imagery taken two weeks after the disappearance of MH370.
Photograph: Byrne Guy/Geoscience Australia

From The Guardian by Oliver Holmes

Drift analysis of debris reveals new coordinates for potential impact location

Australia has released satellite images it says show 12 “probably man-made” objects floating in the sea near the suspected crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Taken two weeks after MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014, the photos were analysed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
Its researchers used drift modelling of the debris to suggest a new potential location for the crash site — a 5,000 sq km (1930 sq miles) area just north of the former search zone.

 Drift modelling from the CSIRO report showing simulated trajectories of debris items over time from a single point of origin: at 35.6 degrees south and 92.8 degrees east.
Australia is on the right of the picture.
Photo: ATSB

Two Australian government agencies, Geoscience Australia and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), analysed the images, which were taken by a French military satellite but not released to the public.

The report said the detected objects appeared to form clusters, rather than being randomly scattered across the area.

The findings seemed to bolster the ATSB’s conclusion last November that the plane most likely crashed north of waters it spent more than two-and-a-half years searching.
The CSIRO report provided precise coordinates —35.6°S, 92.8°E.

images from Pleiades Astrium

The areas covered by four newly-analysed images thought to depict wreckage of MH370
The report said that the 35.6S, 92.8E location was the likely crash site, though two other possible candidates (34.7S, 92.6E and 35.3S, 91.8E) had been identified.
All are just outside the search area specified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.  

Researchers said they had a “high degree of confidence” that the drift models of the debris pointed to an impact site within that area, a part of the Indian Ocean that was not searched.

Greg Hood, Chief Commissioner of the ATSB, said the reports “may be useful in informing any further search effort that may be mounted in the future” but called for caution.
“These objects have not been definitely identified as MH370 debris,” he said.
“The image resolution is not high enough to be certain whether the objects originated from MH370 or are other objects that might be found floating in oceans around the world.”

 Images of an object in the water

Source: French Military Intelligence Service

Regardless, the tantalising new information will reignite pressure to locate the passenger plane that vanished with 239 people aboard, one of aviation’s greatest mysteries.
The underwater search for the Boeing 777 in the southern Indian Ocean was suspended indefinitely in January to an outcry from families of the missing.

New area with the GeoGarage platform (AHS chart)

Investigators have used satellite data, radar tracking, and air traffic to estimate where MH370 plunged into the ocean.
Inexplicably, the jet’s communication systems were cut off early into the flight, and the pilot failed to check in with air traffic controllers.

The plane’s transponder, a vital radar system that broadcasts height and location information, also stopped transmitting.
Later, the 120,000 sq km (46,000 sq miles) search zone was determined along a curved line called the Seventh Arc, an area where the plan is considered to have exhausted its fuel.

More than a year after the plane disappeared, a 2.7m-long piece of metal covered in barnacles washed up on RĂ©union Island, more than 3,700km (2,300 miles) away from the main search site.
French investigators confirmed it was part of the missing aircraft.

Since then, more parts of the aircraft appear to have washed up on the east coast of Africa.

Malaysia, as the state of registry for the aircraft, retains overall authority and responsibility for any future search and has not indicated an interest in restarting it.

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