Help find Malaysia Air Flight 370 by scanning satellite photos online

You can help find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 by scanning satellite photos online.

I’d heard about this yesterday, but wasn’t able to get on the site until today. It’s pretty cool.

search-malaysia-air2--featuredA company called Digital Globe has posted a lot of recent satellite photos online via a crowd-sourcing Web site called TomNod, and the site lets users go through the photos and mark anything interesting they find.  In particular, they ask you look for wreckage, oil slicks, and/or life rafts.

When you see something that looks suspicious, you click a button at the top left of the screen and can mark it to be checked later by someone at Digital Globe.

You can even create an account for free, and somehow Digital Globe is able to sift through who is a reliable spotter and who isn’t, so they can spend more time perusing the reliable feedback.

CNN showed a photo of one spotter’s result – it looks like a plane in the water, but it will take some experts to look before anyone knows.

It’s a neat idea.  Check it out for yourself.  Here’s a quick look at my search on TomNod:

search-malaysia-air2-


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • HeartlandLiberal

    Having read the reports that Rolls Royce is now reporting they got enough automatic reports from the engines, which trigger every 30 minutes, that they believe the plane was still in the air for over four hours after its transponder went silent, I have to wonder if rather than looking for a crash on the ocean we should instead be looking for a spare 777 sitting on runway somewhere within flight range to the west of point of origin. The plane may literally have been stolen and landed. The 777 requires a landing strip of at least one mile, and less than two miles.

  • RileyDeWiley

    XPosted on http://www.wired.com and some other places

    ————————-

    Hey, I think we can solve this thing.

    Start with this model of what went wrong: After the plane got to cruising speed and altitude, some malfunction (in the altimeter, or autopilot, or gyro) caused it to enter a very shallow dive – like about 1/20 a degree shy of perfect horizontal flight. Flying over the ocean on a moonless night would not have offered anyone on the plane any information about altitude, so if the instruments were lying, the flight crew would not have known. The transponder is squawking ident and position but not altitude.

    After a while, the antenna receiving transponder squawks (back in Malaysia) goes under the horizon (from the plane’s perspective), so at this point, the transponder squawks stop. Everybody is saying it was “switched off”. It wasn’t, it was too low to be heard in Malaysia. This happens at about the point that they would hand the plane off to Vietnam, which has not picked up any squawks or transmissions, perhaps for the same reason. In any case, the Vietnamese ATC folks are not yet tracking the plane. Nobody on or off the plane knows it, but the plane is flying too low, say ~15000 feet instead of 35000.

    The plane continues several hundred kilometers past the point of last contact and pancakes, either into the ocean south of Vietnam, or in the swampy southern reaches of Vietnam itself. At the moment of the crash, nobody on board suspects any trouble.

    The plane is not found because it is a long way from the point of last contact, and the searchers (who in that area are Vietnamese) overlook the debris .. or whatever. It’s a big globe, after all. The plane would have skipped across the ocean at 700 nautical miles per hour, so who knows what was left of it?

    Anyway, this boils down to a math problem. The location and height of the transponder tower should be find-able. The presumptive cruise altitude of the plane is known(call it cA = 35000), and we will assume that at the point it entered cruising altitude(call it pC, point Cruise), was correct. The location of the plane at the point when the transponder went dark is known (incidentally, the plane went dark “too soon” for a plane at 35000 – which fits) (call this point pD, for Darkness). Location and height of the tower are known(tL and tH). Use tH, cA, pC, pD and Earth’s curvature to solve for the rate of descent (rD). Use pC and rD and azimuth to solve point X. Done.

    Anyone want to take a stab at it?

    If this is still around in the morning I might try myself. Been years since I took any math classes though …

    RDeW

  • TonyT

    worked well with the up and down, left and right arrows. Did the whole grid in about 3 hours. Didn’t find any debris but found about 20 boats and an oil well.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    It keeps crashing, but the link to the site itself has been working for me today – having said that, it has some real compatability issues depending on your browser, computer etc. At least for m.

  • KarenJ

    I think the Tomnod/Digital Globe site crashed already…

  • StraightGrandmother

    It is cool.
    But I think I already spend more than enough time on the internet.
    I hope the people of Malaysia are aware of this app.

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