Satellite Images Offer New Hope in Finding MH370 Crash Location

New satellite image analysis identified man-made debris in the ocean near where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is believed to have crashed. Australian Transport Safety Bureau

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 remains one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history, but the Australian government hopes that recent satellite image analysis will provide a breakthrough in finally determining the location of the Boeing 777-200ER.

Back in March, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau asked Geoscience Australia for assistance in analyzing four images that were taken by a Pleiades 1A satellite on March 23, 2014, 15 days after the flight vanished. The images, GA determined, "contain at least 70 identifiable objects," 12 of which are "probably man made." Another 28 objects are "possibly man made."

In addition to the GA report, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) released its third drift report, and the agency is very optimistic that the analysis of these images will pave the way to finding MH370.

“Taking drift model uncertainty into account, we have found that the objects identified in most of the images can be associated with a single location within the previously identified region suggested by other lines of evidence,” the report reads. “Furthermore, we think it is possible to identify a most-likely location of the aircraft, with unprecedented precision and certainty.”

While this analysis provides hope in solving this tragic mystery, the ATSB is preaching caution.

"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," ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said. "Clearly we must be cautious. These objects have not been definitely identified as MH370 debris."

The GA’s report said confidence in this analysis can be increased with examination of additional imagery from the same satellite taken in “similar sea-state.” But CSIRO’s Dr. David Griffin believes that these images are crucial.

"If we find MH370, which we all hope to do," he said, "it will be thanks to all this satellite data, particularly the altimetry data."


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