# Tracking flight 370 : Can we use satellite images to find it?

In summary, the conversation discusses the possibility of finding flight 370 through satellite images of the flight's path. It is questioned whether there are actually high resolution images available at the time of the flight and it is suggested that even if the images are low resolution, the color of the plane could still be distinguishable. There is also mention of a satellite image of a moving plane taken by Google Maps, but it is clarified that it was taken from an aircraft, not a satellite. It is noted that mapping the ocean floor is a difficult and costly task and there have been limited efforts in this area. Finally, it is mentioned that the flight occurred at night, making it unlikely that any satellites would have captured it.
I think we can find flight 370 if we have satellite images of the flight. The question is, do we have any such images of the actual flight as it was in progress? It was a clear night. Even if the images are low resolution, as long as the color of the plane is distinguishable from its background then we can find it in an image (even if we need to tell a computer to do this for us).

The question is, is there actually descent resolution satellite images at the time of the flight that could be used to trace its path? I've done some calculating. If a 777 Boing travels at 1000km/hour (approximately 300m/s) and the average exposure time of a satellite picture is 0.1s then the plane moves 30m in the photo/image. So it isn't even too blurred in the image if the exposure time of the satellite camera is low.

The question still looms, are there images of 370 at the time of the flight of the missing craft? Are the images high res? If so then my plan works for locating the plane.

Check out this satellite image of a moving plane taken by google maps;

Computer science news on Phys.org
First, that image was taken from an aircraft not a satellite. Most detailed maps of cities and populated areas on Google maps come from aerial mapping. They overlay the sources as you zoom it. The odds of a high resolution space based imaging device being pointed to that remote location at random is remote.

nsaspook said:
The odds of a high resolution space based imaging device being pointed to that remote location at random is remote.

"Remote" as in a comment from an oceanographer at a UK university on a news clip about this incident: "We have higher resolution maps of most of the surface of the moon than of that part of the ocean floor."

AlephZero said:
"Remote" as in a comment from an oceanographer at a UK university on a news clip about this incident: "We have higher resolution maps of most of the surface of the moon than of that part of the ocean floor."

It's being worked on or at least being planned. http://mp-www.nrl.navy.mil/marine_physics_branch/introduction.htm

In the last few decades, increasingly detailed (high resolution) mapping projects have revealed the surfaces of the Moon, Mars, Venus, several asteroids, and the larger moons of Jupiter and Saturn to resolutions of better than 100 meters (about the size of a football field), and in some cases (for example the Jovian moon Europa, and Mars) to better than 10 meters (the size of a large automobile). Planetary and lunar mapping missions have generated numerous research publications. The Earth's oceans (comparison between earth, Earth oceans, moons, etc) cover an area larger than one Mars sized planet plus three Moons. Only a small part of the ocean floor has been mapped to the 100 meter resolution the Magellan radar mapping mission achieved on Venus, and areas the size of cities have scarcely or never been crossed by a survey ship. GOMaP would bring knowledge about our own ocean floors up at least to that we now have for Venus. Seafloor mapping to date has been highly inhomogeneous, a crazy-quilt of sounding lines to and from major ports and local areas mapped in detail for purposes of basic research, hydrocarbon exploration, or other purposes (current track coverage map). The seafloors of the southern oceans are especially poorly known.

I spent a (thank goodness very) short time on a SURTASS ship. Mapping the ocean would have be robotic and unmanned because it's the most boring job (est 90 million km of ship track at 10 to 20 billion dollars) on the planet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveillance_Towed_Array_Sensor_System

The SURTASS LFA ship must maintain a minimum speed of approximately 6 kilometers per hour (3.2 knots) through the water in order to tow the hydrophone array in the horizontal plane. The return signals or echoes, which are usually below background or ambient noise level, are then processed and evaluated to identify and classify potential underwater targets.[6]

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The methodical search of the sea-floor continues, in the area considered most likely to hold the plane's secrets. How different the search would be had there been some reported sighting by a fishing vessel of an off-course commercial airliner.

The first time I saw a flying plane in satellite imagery was from a LandSat photo of Virginia and DC. There were two jumbo jets flying through the area at the time. The big clues were the contrails that showed up it the a couple of the layers - the near IR bands as I recall. By following the contrails to their tips, you could planely (no pun intended) see the jets.

Earth observation satellites are placed into sun-synchronous orbits to keep the scene below them at the same time of day during the entire sunny part of their orbit. For example, the satellites in the "A Train" all look down on the Earth in the afternoon (hence the "A").

The last MH370 flight was entirely in the dark, not a good viewing time for satellites. So I expect a near zero chance that any satellite imaged it.

## 1. How accurate are satellite images in tracking flight 370?

Satellite images can provide accurate information about the location of flight 370, but it is not the only source of data used in tracking the flight. Other factors such as radar data, aircraft communication systems, and eyewitness accounts are also used to determine the location of the plane.

## 2. How often are satellite images updated in the search for flight 370?

Satellite images are usually updated every few days, but it may vary depending on the specific satellite used and the area being searched. In the case of flight 370, satellite images have been updated more frequently in the initial days of the search and then less frequently as the search continues.

## 3. Can satellite images show debris or wreckage from flight 370?

Satellite images can show debris or wreckage from flight 370, but it depends on various factors such as the size of the debris and the resolution of the satellite image. Additionally, debris or wreckage can also be obscured by cloud cover or other natural elements, making it more challenging to spot in satellite images.

## 4. How do scientists use satellite images to track flight 370?

Scientists use satellite images to track flight 370 by analyzing the images for any signs of the plane or debris in the designated search area. They compare previous images with the latest ones to identify any changes or anomalies that could indicate the location of the missing plane.

## 5. Can satellite images be used to determine the cause of the disappearance of flight 370?

Satellite images can provide valuable information in determining the cause of the disappearance of flight 370, but they cannot provide a definitive answer on their own. Other data such as flight data recorders and debris analysis are also essential in understanding the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the flight.

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