Scientists use satellite info to create 3D map of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 search area in Indian Ocean

30-May-2014 Intellasia | News | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A NEW 3D map of the Indian Ocean floor could help with the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Underwater mapping experts Walter Smith and Karen Marks of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry have created an underwater map of the Indian Ocean were MH370 is thought to have vanished.

The map vividly shows the complicated, vast terrain that search crews have had to comb through.

The new map covers a 2000km by 1240km area where “pings” thought to be from the plane’s black box were detected during the extensive search.

The area includes peaks and ridges rising from 1637 metres below sea level and plunging to a depth of 7883 metres.

“It is a very complex part of the world that is very poorly known,” said Smith.

The new map was published in EOS, an Earth and science publication of the American Geophysical Union.

It gives a clearer picture of the underwater terrain, which could help search teams decide which underwater robots to use, and may help experts model the ocean to determine where plane debris may lie, Smith told EOS.

Only 5 per cent of the southeast Indian Ocean has been mapped, he said.

“It is not ‘x marks the spot’,” Smith said. “We are painting with a very, very broad brush.”

It shows locations on the ocean floor where “pings” were detected, and the two plateaus nearby.

The scientists were able to combine the satellite data with information from ship tracking systems, underwater topography records and media reports on the search to create the most thorough picture of the vast underwater area yet.

Satellites are able to estimate underwater topography by measuring the height to the water’s surface by using radar.


Category: Malaysia

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