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

  1. Mar 24, 2014 #1
    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;

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2014 #2


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    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.
  4. Mar 28, 2014 #3


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    "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."
  5. Mar 28, 2014 #4


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

    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.


    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  6. Jul 16, 2014 #5


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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.
  7. Jul 16, 2014 #6
    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.
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