Author Topic: Satellite technology and the location of missing plane MH370  (Read 81063 times)

Offline Star One

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Offline Star One

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US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #21 on: 03/14/2014 12:16 AM »
Sorry for the double post but it seems the US has used an unidentified part of their satellite constellation to give a possible location for where it may be.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-officials-malaysia-airline-crashed-indian-ocean/t/story?id=22894802

From the news reports on this it appears the US is deploying a lot of intelligence assets onto locating it.
« Last Edit: 03/14/2014 12:19 AM by Star One »

Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #22 on: 03/14/2014 11:55 AM »
NOSS or some GEO Sigint? I wonder if they forgot to turn off the weather radar?
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Offline Star One

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US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #23 on: 03/14/2014 01:55 PM »
NOSS or some GEO Sigint? I wonder if they forgot to turn off the weather radar?

I wonder if they are doing any visual reconnaissance from space or relying on aircraft for this?

Taken from the Guardian newspaper live coverage so no link.

Quote
Satellite company says it registered signals
Inmarsat, the £3bn satellite company, registered “routine, automated signals” from MH370 on its network, the company said in a brief statement on its website.

The statement does not mention for how long the signals were received or when they stopped.

Here’s the statement in full:

14 March 2014: Inmarsat has issued the following statement regarding Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Routine, automated signals were registered on the Inmarsat network from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during its flight from Kuala Lumpur.

This information was provided to our partner SITA, which in turn has shared it with Malaysia Airlines.

For further information, please contact Malaysia Airlines.

“Such signals are very reliable,” but would not indicate location, an Inmarsat executive told NPR’s Frank Langfitt:

David Coiley, vice president of aviation at Inmarsat, declined in an interview to discuss the specifics of the Malaysia Airlines case. But he said that in general, such signals are very reliable. ‘I‘d say way over 99 percent. It’s highly unusual to get a false positive that the system was still operating when in fact it wasn’t,’ he said.” [...]

Coiley, the Inmarsat executive, told Frank that the pings received by its satellites would not include data on altitude or a plane’s position.
« Last Edit: 03/14/2014 02:55 PM by Star One »

Offline WulfTheSaxon

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #24 on: 03/16/2014 04:10 AM »
Taken from the Guardian newspaper live coverage so no link.

Quote
Coiley, the Inmarsat executive, told Frank that the pings received by its satellites would not include data on altitude or a plane’s position.

On the other hand, you can get one axis based on latency and/or signal strength. They’ve now done this (image from the Malaysian government, via the New York Times).

Online Targeteer

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #25 on: 03/16/2014 04:20 AM »
There is an excellent breakdown of US and Chinese satelllites mentioned here and elsewhere in the press at http://sattrackcam.blogspot.com/ (look for the 13 March entry.)  The graphics showing visibility for the IR satellites are enlightening.

 Marco has his act together when discussing satellites but I would quibble with this assertion from the blog
"It is less likely that the older DSP system was used. It probably does not have enough sensitivity..."  My previous post shows examples of the DSP system having such a sensitivity--a long time ago :)
« Last Edit: 03/16/2014 04:21 AM by Targeteer »
Best quote heard during an inspection, "I was unaware that I was the only one who was aware."

Online Robotbeat

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #26 on: 03/17/2014 01:21 AM »
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.
You're clearly not familiar with Iridium's constellation which doesn't have a footprint focused on populated areas but covering the entire planet (yes, the poles). Iridium has nearly a million subscribers, and that's with an old network, the new network will be launched starting next year. They already sell these products: http://www.iridium.com/IridiumConnected/ViewAllStories/HawkerBeechcraftStory.aspx
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Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #27 on: 03/17/2014 11:46 AM »
Iridium currently doesn't have the bandwidth to stream the black boxes from the entire civilian fleet.

What ever happened to this plane, the tracking features where switched off. That fact is hard to counter, even with black box streaming. Someone will find a way to disable it.

Don't get me started about some Indian officials indicating that, maybe they might have had the military tracking radars switched off as a cost cutting method. Similar to the Ethiopian Airlines Hijacking in February, the Swiss military jets where only available to intercept during regular business hours, Monday thru Friday.

The one thing I worry about with blackbox streaming using GEO platforms is many international flights hop over the poles. At the polar point in the flight the coverage is not great, the antenna angle is quite difficult.

Maybe Blackbox streaming has the potential to sell a few dedicated Molniya orbit satellites?
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #28 on: 03/17/2014 01:07 PM »
To the OP:  Unable, or not willing to divulge capabilities?
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Star One

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #29 on: 03/17/2014 01:11 PM »

To the OP:  Unable, or not willing to divulge capabilities?

Not for us to know I would think.

Online Chris Bergin

Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #30 on: 03/17/2014 01:58 PM »
To the OP:  Unable, or not willing to divulge capabilities?

What you don't know won't hurt you ;)


Online Robotbeat

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #31 on: 03/17/2014 02:23 PM »
Iridium currently doesn't have the bandwidth to stream the black boxes from the entire civilian fleet.
...
And why not? A limited data stream, say 200bit/s to 2kb/s, could easily be handled by the Iridium constellation. Easily. That's comparable to a lot of the black boxes out there. And CERTAINLY by the next-generation Iridium constellation. There are only about 20,000 aircraft in the air at any one time. At the minimum 200bit/s data rate (which could be compressed further and sent via SMS-like chunks which also could be sent by the Orbcomm constellation, another LEO constellation that will be upgraded this year and next), that's only 4Mbit/s. Each Iridium satellite has 4 10Mbit/s inter-satellite links, and that's the old constellation.

So, either defend your claim that the Iridium constellation doesn't (and won't) have the bandwidth with some numbers or retract. :)
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Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #32 on: 03/17/2014 02:55 PM »
Per Wikki:

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

Quote
There are 88 parameters required as a minimum under current U.S. federal regulations (only 29 were required until 2002), but some systems monitor many more variables. Generally each parameter is recorded a few times per second, though some units store "bursts" of data at a much higher frequency if the data begins to change quickly.

Good luck fitting that into a 200 bit/s data stream. And that's data, and does not include voice.

Remember most voice compression techniques are lossy, meaning you introduce artifacts. Something you definitely don't want when analyzing a black box.

You will also notice with MH370 was transmitting ACARS over VHF instead of Satcom when in range of VHF stations. If unlimited bandwidth was available they would not have been offloading the ACARS reports onto VHF when ever they had a chance.
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Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #33 on: 03/17/2014 03:00 PM »
I should also add the Malaysian was subscribing to the min. ACARS service that only generated reports on engine conditions at a few key points in the flight. Take off, Finish Climb, Cruise, and Landing.

If you look at AF447, they subscribed to the whole package and the ACARS was sending reports all the way down to the water. It still took recovery of the real black box to figure out what actually happened.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #34 on: 03/17/2014 03:02 PM »
Per Wikki:

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

Quote
There are 88 parameters required as a minimum under current U.S. federal regulations (only 29 were required until 2002), but some systems monitor many more variables. Generally each parameter is recorded a few times per second, though some units store "bursts" of data at a much higher frequency if the data begins to change quickly.

Good luck fitting that into a 200 bit/s data stream. And that's data, and does not include voice.

Remember most voice compression techniques are lossy, meaning you introduce artifacts. Something you definitely don't want when analyzing a black box.

You will also notice with MH370 was transmitting ACARS over VHF instead of Satcom when in range of VHF stations. If unlimited bandwidth was available they would not have been offloading the ACARS reports onto VHF when ever they had a chance.
So what? There's no reason you'd have to dump the /entire/ data stream as often as you would for the black box itself. You'd get most of the benefit by having even a tenth of the bandwidth.

Also, can you explain why you chose the lower end of my range? 2kb/s would still be fine for the full data stream requirements.

And if there's any question about the current constellation, that will soon be a completely moot point as the Iridium NEXT constellation will have this capability built in.
Watch this video:
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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #35 on: 03/17/2014 03:10 PM »
We currently don't even know where the plane is, let alone its path since contact was lost. At very least this information would be available if that Malaysian plane had been using the Iridium Aireon transponder (if designed so it couldn't be shut off in the air).
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Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #36 on: 03/17/2014 03:19 PM »
I think I should reiterate, they did not fully solve the AF447 accident until they recovered the black boxes. Yes you need the full stream.

It also doesn't help if the pilot can switch off the unit, like happened in MH370. If the transponder and ACARS had not been switched off, we would know where this plane was.

An argument can be made for hardened realtime tracking that can not be switched off. An arguement can also be made for better Radar coverage in this area. It took them 10 days to find Adam Air Flight 574.

You're also assuming with Iridium NEXT that SpaceX will get it's act together and launch on time ;)
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Offline corrodedNut

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #37 on: 03/17/2014 03:19 PM »
People Overload Website, Hoping To Help Search For Missing Jet.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/11/289119521/people-overload-website-hoping-to-help-search-for-missing-jet

Here's the direct link to the Tomnod/DigitalGlobe website: http://www.tomnod.com/nod/challenge/malaysiaairsar2014

I sifted through a few hundred sections, mostly boats and whitecaps.

Online kevin-rf

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #38 on: 03/17/2014 03:25 PM »
I keep wondering, Landsat Data is available free of charge, I wonder if anyone has looked to see if there are any new large dark smudges on the northern arc where this missing flight may be.
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Online Robotbeat

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Re: US spy satellites unable to help find missing plane
« Reply #39 on: 03/17/2014 03:36 PM »
I think I should reiterate, they did not fully solve the AF447 accident until they recovered the black boxes. Yes you need the full stream.

It also doesn't help if the pilot can switch off the unit, like happened in MH370. If the transponder and ACARS had not been switched off, we would know where this plane was.

An argument can be made for hardened realtime tracking that can not be switched off. An arguement can also be made for better Radar coverage in this area. It took them 10 days to find Adam Air Flight 574.

You're also assuming with Iridium NEXT that SpaceX will get it's act together and launch on time ;)
Recovering the black box itself is helped a lot if you know where it is. Even a basic data stream would provide that information.
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