Thursday, March 20, 2014
Satellite images from March 16 show 2 objects floating in the ocean approximately 1500 miles WSW of Perth, Australia. The largest object is about 80 feet long and might be part of a wing. Two reconnaissance aircraft, including the P-8A, went to the area but were unable to locate the floating objects and had to return to Perth. Poor visibility, bad weather and the onset of darkness made it difficult to see anything.
The good news is they spotted something with radar.
USA Today is reporting,
The objects, found in satellite imagery, are “of reasonable size and probably awash with water,” John Young, general manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, said at a press conference in Canberra, Australia’s capital, on Thursday.
Earlier, the crew of the Poseidon told ABC News that their aircraft was getting radar hits of “significant size” in water’s beneath the surface near the objects but that it was too early to tell if these hits were related to debris from the missing plane.
“This is a lead, this is probably the best lead we have right now, but we have to find them, see them, assess them,” Young said of the objects.
A Norwegian merchant ship has reached the area and is searching it.
Given the currents in the area, the objects in the satellite image will have drifted to a new location.
Prof Alexander Babanin, director of the Centre for Ocean Engineering, Science and Technology at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, said that the search was taking place in an area of deep ocean and strong currents, where waves can reach up to six metres in stormy weather.
He noted that floating debris could have been carried 100km away from their position in the satellite photographs, an estimate based on looking at average conditions.
Fragments could be spread over 50km or so, and material suspended beneath the surface could be carried perhaps even further, because ocean currents can be stronger than wave-induced currents, he said.
Charitha Pattiaratchi, a professor of oceanography at the University of Western Australia, told Reuters that the search area covered an ocean ridge known as Naturalist Plateau, a large sea shelf about 3,500 metres (9,800ft) deep. The plateau is about 250km (150 miles) wide by 400km (250 miles) long, and the area around it is close to 5,000 metres (16,400 feet) deep.
“Whichever way you go, it’s deep,” he said