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French, Chinese Satellite Images May Show Malaysian Jet Debris 103

Posted by timothy
from the lot-of-ocean-out-there dept.
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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French, Chinese Satellite Images May Show Malaysian Jet Debris

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  • Great Headline (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by JMJimmy (2036122)

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

    • Re:Great Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iggymanz (596061) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @10:47AM (#46557125)

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

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @10:52AM (#46557141)

        The NSA knows where it is.

        So do the aliens who abducted it.

        None of them are telling.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        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.

        • by itsme1234 (199680)

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

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            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

            • 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.

              • 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.

              • by Rich0 (548339)

                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 dur

            • by Talderas (1212466)

              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.

        • 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?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            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.

          • by Rich0 (548339)

            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.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

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

        • by iggymanz (596061)

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

      • by Alomex (148003)

        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.

        • 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

          • by Alomex (148003)

            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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @10:51AM (#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]

      • Actually, it's the adoption of Klingon battle-speak.
      • by jrumney (197329)

        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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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".

    • 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 RTFSu

  • The sad thing.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @11:07AM (#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.

    • 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.

  • Normal situation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gerardrj (207690) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @11:27AM (#46557293) Journal

    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.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      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 Geo

      • by jrumney (197329)

        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?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      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.

      • 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.

    • by Cassini2 (956052)

      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 par

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      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 f

    • by khchung (462899)

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Diego Garcia

  • French, Chinese...

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

    • by Kittenman (971447)

      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!

  • "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!

  • by nurb432 (527695)

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

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