March 15, 2014

Different tech tools used to find missing Malaysia Airlines jet

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

It is when events such as the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 remind us of large our planet is and the challenges of exploration – or in this case, pinpointing the location for rescue/recovery of this plane and the 239 people on board (as I write this post, the flight has been missing for eight days).

There was one report that a crash site had been determined through two seismic recordings (see earthquake data on USGS Earthquake Hazards Program website).  However, the USGS quickly dismissed the seismic events as being a crash site, one reason being the number of earthquakes that occur in this region of the same magnitude on a daily basis (see CBS Denver story).

A company named DigitalGlobe is trying a unique approach.  They are crowdsourcing volunteers (thousands of them!) to go through satellite photos to see if they can locate the plane, plane debris in the ocean, etc. (see CNN article).  Crowdsourcing has gained popularity for programs ranging from collecting data to funding scientific research.  Now, we can only hope that the combination of satellite images, the internet, and thousands of pairs of eyes can help solve this mystery.