Malaysia: International agencies searching for the missing Malaysian MH370 plane are racing against time. A report published on MalaymailOnline states that the “Batteries powering the emergency locator transmitters equipped on the black boxes have a rated life of 30 days; the plane went missing on March 8 or 31 days ago."
With an Australian and Chinese ship detecting ultrasonic pings on 6th and 5th April, respectively, the area of search has now been narrowed down a 600km corridor of Indian Ocean. Detailed models of the ocean in the search area are currently being assembled by the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), with the help of satellites. According to a report on BBC, if a signal is picked up again, search crews could deploy the autonomous mini-submarine Bluefin-21, which can create a detailed map of the sea bed using sonar, and possibly also spot wreckage.
CSIRO is using a number of ocean models for the operation. If a piece of debris is located, its systems hindcast (or backtrack) it to the original location or the possible crash site. Its systems can also help the search- boats and -planes by forecasting the location.
These models use data from the Global Ocean Observing System and Australia’s Integrated Marine Observation System (IMOS). Three satellites (Jason-2, Cryosat-2 and SARAL) are particularly crucial to the work. The satellites are equipped with altimeters, which map ocean-surface topography with accuracy better than 5cm. CSIRO is also using thermal imagery of the ocean from several additional satellites to measure the temperature of the surface of the ocean.