Author Topic: Satellite technology and the location of missing plane MH370  (Read 85354 times)

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
I was going to ask if you could use all those NRO satellites to find out what happened to this plane.

Quote
The United States extensively reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none, a U.S. government source said. The source described U.S. satellite coverage of the region as thorough.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-malaysiaairlines-flight-idUSBREA2701720140310
« Last Edit: 03/22/2014 02:53 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4873
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #1 on: 03/10/2014 08:59 PM »
There are two ways that modern satellite constellations can help events like this in the future:

1) Improve black boxes by constantly streaming data over the whole trip in real-time. We're already starting to get satellite internet on some flights (I'm talking satellite internet, not the usual cell tower based internet that is normal for in-flight wifi now), so adding another data stream wouldn't be insurmountable at all.

2) Global near-realtime satellite imagery (i.e. every few hours) from the likes of Planetlabs, Skybox, etc.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
« Last Edit: 03/10/2014 09:11 PM by Star One »

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 27019
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 6911
  • Likes Given: 4873
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #3 on: 03/10/2014 09:17 PM »
Global aviation surveillance using the Iridium network to have realtime aircraft updates anywhere on the globe:
http://www.aireon.com

Skybox, updating Earth's satellite imagery every few hours (only launched one satellite so far, going to have a large constellation):
http://skybox.com/

Similar group, with more of their constellation already launched (but lower resolution):
http://www.planet-labs.com/
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online Targeteer

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3603
  • near hangar 18
  • Liked: 796
  • Likes Given: 377
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #4 on: 03/10/2014 10:13 PM »
I was going to ask if you could use all those NRO satellites to find out what happened to this plane.

Quote
The United States extensively reviewed imagery taken by American spy satellites for evidence of a mid-air explosion, but saw none, a U.S. government source said. The source described U.S. satellite coverage of the region as thorough.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/10/us-malaysiaairlines-flight-idUSBREA2701720140310

Use of the term "imagery" may be unfortunate since the chance of one of the NRO's imagery (ie KH) satellites being over the area, at the right time, and looking at the right place to see something is remote.  USAF infra-red early warning satellites/payloads (DSP, SBIRS GEO and HEO) are likely what is being referenced and have demonstrated the ability to detect aircraft impacts with the ground (see the attachment page 7).  Detecting an explosion at altitude would seem possible/even probable if one occurred particularly since the far more capable SBIRS sensors are now operational and were not when the acknowledged detections in the attachment occurred. 

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2013/december/1217-ss-sbirs-geo-2.html
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Offline Eer

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 274
  • Liked: 140
  • Likes Given: 129
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #5 on: 03/10/2014 10:21 PM »
Wonder if anyone is checking in flight passenger comma, if plane had cell, internet, or passengers had satphones operating... Maybe unlikely to help, but I'd think people may be getting desperate for any leads...

Offline pathfinder_01

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1874
  • Liked: 47
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #6 on: 03/10/2014 10:21 PM »
That could be hard.  Airplane crashes into the ocean sometimes don't leave much of any debris and the amount of area needed to be covered could be kind of large.

Offline Antares

  • ABO^2
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5192
  • Done arguing with amateurs
  • Liked: 342
  • Likes Given: 213
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #7 on: 03/10/2014 11:10 PM »
I disagree.  There are a lot of lightweight things in aircraft.  Something should be floating.  Suitcases, 239 seat cushions that can be used as flotation devices, bodies (sorry).  I'm a pretty scientific guy, so for there to be no trace of this aircraft with the number of things that should float, I'm very, very perplexed.

An IR sat should easily be able to see an explosion against the quiet and uniform background of the ocean, unless it was a non-flammable pressure device or simple structural failure.

Even then, there should be some debris.
If I like something on NSF, it's probably because I know it to be accurate.  Every once in a while, it's just something I agree with.  Facts generally receive the former.

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2578
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 3130
  • Likes Given: 228
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #8 on: 03/10/2014 11:23 PM »
There are two ways that modern satellite constellations can help events like this in the future:

1) Improve black boxes by constantly streaming data over the whole trip in real-time. We're already starting to get satellite internet on some flights (I'm talking satellite internet, not the usual cell tower based internet that is normal for in-flight wifi now), so adding another data stream wouldn't be insurmountable at all.

No, adding a data stream wouldn't be hard at all. Adding several thousand of them would be. With satellite footprints getting smaller in polulated areas and coverage being pretty sparse outside of the main coverages, it wouldn't be easy to have real time data to every plane in the sky.
 As for the lack of debris, the plane could have ditched intact and sunk.
« Last Edit: 03/10/2014 11:26 PM by Nomadd »

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #9 on: 03/10/2014 11:41 PM »
Wasn't there a cubesat launched last year specifically to test a plane tracking system?

Offline Zed_Noir

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2212
  • Canada
  • Liked: 282
  • Likes Given: 444
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #10 on: 03/11/2014 02:00 AM »
That could be hard.  Airplane crashes into the ocean sometimes don't leave much of any debris and the amount of area needed to be covered could be kind of large.

What about the 5 & half hours worth of jet fuel aboard the MH370 flight when it disappear? Especially since the ocean bottom is about 250 meters down.

Wonder if any radar birds have overfly the possible crash areas yet?

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8514
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1026
  • Likes Given: 234
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #11 on: 03/11/2014 11:21 AM »
What about the 5 & half hours worth of jet fuel aboard the MH370 flight when it disappear? Especially since the ocean bottom is about 250 meters down.

If a breakup occurred at altitude, the fuel would have dispersed and not left a slick.

That point has been covered and recovered in the airliners.net threads.

The fact that the US said it did not detect the event meaning, no large fireball kinda rules out some possible causes. I wonder if anything registered on infrasound and Sonobuoy networks.
« Last Edit: 03/11/2014 11:23 AM by kevin-rf »
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Online Ben the Space Brit

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6982
  • A spaceflight fan
  • London, UK
  • Liked: 548
  • Likes Given: 622
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #12 on: 03/11/2014 11:55 AM »
I'd also task the sats to look for activity at abandoned WWII-era airstrips in the area (especially recently cleared bomber-rated strips) and for areas of suspiciously disturbed canopy around these that might indicate a large something had been hastily camouflaged. My gut feeling is that the aircraft may be on the ground somewhere and in more-or-less one piece;
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

~*~*~*~

The Space Shuttle Program - 1981-2011

The time for words has passed; The time has come to put up or shut up!
DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Offline Elvis in Space

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 363
  • Elvis is Everywhere
  • Still on Earth
  • Liked: 263
  • Likes Given: 1414
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #13 on: 03/11/2014 12:11 PM »
I'd also task the sats to look for activity at abandoned WWII-era airstrips in the area (especially recently cleared bomber-rated strips) and for areas of suspiciously disturbed canopy around these that might indicate a large something had been hastily camouflaged. My gut feeling is that the aircraft may be on the ground somewhere and in more-or-less one piece;

If that's the case then why didn't the crew have time to at least issue a Mayday?
Cheeseburgers on Mars!

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7948
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 2155
  • Likes Given: 5090
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #14 on: 03/11/2014 12:11 PM »
Global aviation surveillance using the Iridium network to have realtime aircraft updates anywhere on the globe:
http://www.aireon.com

Skybox, updating Earth's satellite imagery every few hours (only launched one satellite so far, going to have a large constellation):
http://skybox.com/

Similar group, with more of their constellation already launched (but lower resolution):
http://www.planet-labs.com/
Ejectable-floating FRD with locator would have been hel[ful...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Online Ben the Space Brit

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6982
  • A spaceflight fan
  • London, UK
  • Liked: 548
  • Likes Given: 622
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #15 on: 03/11/2014 01:04 PM »
Getting back on topic I doubt it will take so long or be such a mystery that anyone will be willing to compromise whatever intelligence assets might be helpful.

The fact there is a possible radar trace of the aircraft about 500km west of the location of its last contact with ATC on the other side of Malaysia and travelling in the wrong direction strongly indicates that the aircraft was no longer under any legally-recognised control. It is this possibility that, I believe, has drawn the local and international intelligence agencies into the investigation.

I agree that it would require very ambitious bad guys and, possibly, an 'inside man' in the flight crew.
"Oops! I left the silly thing in reverse!" - Duck Dodgers

~*~*~*~

The Space Shuttle Program - 1981-2011

The time for words has passed; The time has come to put up or shut up!
DON'T PROPAGANDISE, FLY!!!

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2578
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 3130
  • Likes Given: 228
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #16 on: 03/11/2014 01:16 PM »
[

If a breakup occurred at altitude, the fuel would have dispersed and not left a slick.

There's no law that says a fuel tank couldn't have remained intact if the plane disintegrated.

Offline Sesquipedalian

  • Whee!
  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 627
  • Liked: 165
  • Likes Given: 488
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #17 on: 03/11/2014 01:39 PM »
There's no law that says a fuel tank couldn't have remained intact if the plane disintegrated.

Airplanes carry fuel in the wings.

Online Galactic Penguin SST

Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #18 on: 03/11/2014 02:16 PM »
To sway this back on topic, is it possible for commercial Earth-imaging satellites to move their orbital planes enough for better coverage of the area within 1-3 days of a plane crash?

(also note that there is already a website out there which is using crowd-sourcing to look for debris using Landsat 8 photos taken ~10 hours after 9M-MRO's disappearance....)
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8514
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1026
  • Likes Given: 234
Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #19 on: 03/12/2014 06:55 PM »
I will preface this with a quote I recently saw. Lots of rumors, few clues, no facts.

Quote
Late Mar 12th 2014 China's State Administration of Science (SASTIND) reported, they discovered three large objects sized 13x18, 14x19 and 24x22 meters at position N6.7 E105.63 (121nm eastsoutheast of the last known secondary radar position), all three objects within a radius of 20km (11nm) and published the satellite images, taken on Mar 9th 2014 at 11:00 Beijing time (03:00Z), see below. SASTIND stated they are committed to provide further search services to locate flight MH-370.

http://www.avherald.com/h?article=4710c69b

The interesting part is the "satellite images" are at the bottom of the AvHerald article.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2014 07:43 PM by kevin-rf »
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Tags: