NASA TO JOIN SEARCH – Chinese satellite sees large object
The unprecedented international search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 resumed early Sunday near Perth, Australia, with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon rejoining the effort, according to a naval spokesman.
Eight planes will search over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, compared to six planes on Saturday, said Andrea Hayward-Maher, spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Planes from the United States, New Zealand, Australia and China will be flying. Three planes, two civilian aircraft and the P-8, were airborne by 7 a.m. Perth time (7 p.m. ET).
New Chinese satellite images “will be taken into consideration” in the search, Hayward-Maher said.
The P-8 Posideon, grounded for two days to give its crew rest, will likely refocus on an area highlighted in Chinese satellite images of a large object floating in the area. Australian-led search teams in the southern Indian Ocean found no sign of it Saturday.
The intense air and sea search — which will now employ NASA satellites — entered its third week with no new clues to give families answers about the fate of the 239 passengers and crew.
The object the Chinese photographed is 22.5 meters long and 13 meters wide (74 feet by 43 feet), officials said.
China said the satellite images showing the “suspected floating object” were captured on March 18.
As a result of the recently reported satellite sighting approximately 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, plans are underway to acquire imagery within the next few days, NASA said Saturday.
The space agency said it will check archives of satellite data and use space-based assets such as the Earth-Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite and the ISERV camera on the International Space Station to acquire images of possible crash sites. The resolution of these images could be used to identify objects of about 98 feet (30 meters) or larger.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said searchers will take the Chinese information into consideration as they design their search for Sunday.
The floating object was about 77 miles from where earlier satellite images spotted floating debris.
At least six search flights were involved Saturday, including two private jets. Though the two civilian jets did not have radar, their role was crucial, authorities said.
“It is more likely that a pair of eyes are going to identify something floating in the ocean,” Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.
Flight 370: When facts are few, imaginations run wild
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, simply vanished from the sky on March 8. In the two weeks since, the mystery of what happened to its 227 passengers and 12 crew members has set off a frenzy of speculation and conspiracy theory hatching.
It was a rogue pilot. Or was it a hero pilot? Terrorists took over the plane. Or were they air pirates? Space aliens? Maybe the crew flew the plane into Pakistan. Or a black hole? Somebody shot it down. Aha! We can’t see the plane because it’s invisible! No, it’s a sign from God that the Rapture is coming! The Illuminati are behind this! And last but not, least here’s that old Internet standby so popular among conservative conspiracy theorists: It’s Obama’s fault.
Pop-culture aficionados have weighed in, too, with comparisons to the television series “Lost” and “Fantasy Island.” Singer Courtney Love went to her Facebook fan page and posted a helpful map drawn on a satellite photo; she said it showed the wreckage in the waters near the island of Palau Perak.
And YouTube commenters suggested that Pitbull and Shakira might have foreseen the trouble, pointing to their 2012 song “Get it Started.” They ponder this lyric: “Now it’s off to Malaysia,” Pitbull sings, “Two passports, three cities, two countries, one day.”
Outlandish as some of these theories sound, they are so much more comforting than the truth. The truth is unfathomable. The truth is, we just don’t know. We can’t know yet and we might never know. Highly trained professionals can’t figure it out, even with all their satellites and radar and pingy things. Think people don’t just disappear from the sky? Tell that to folks who have spent a lifetime trying to figure out what happened to Amelia Earhart or D.B. Cooper.