Search for MH370: No plane, many discoveries

Better plane tracking and improved multinational searches
The yearlong search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has brought no sign of the plane, but it has been productive, Associated Press reports. Though the families of the 239 people still missing continue to demand answers from the airline and the authorities involved, discoveries and lessons resulting from the search could benefit millions.
Benefits so far include new three-dimensional maps of the vast underwater mountains and trenches. These will provide better tsunami prediction, for example, as scientists will have a better understanding of areas prone to underwater landslides during earthquakes. Knowing the topography will also improve search and rescue on the surface of the ocean, as scientists will be better able to predict ocean currents.
The maps will also help show scientists how the Earth’s crust stretched and pulled apart millions of years ago, a process that is continuing today as Australia slowly moves away from Antarctica.
Better plane tracking will come into force by November 2016 – too late for MH370, of course, but requiring comprehensive tracking over sea and land.
Multinational searches have improved in recent months. The search for AirAsia Flight 8501 in December went more smoothly thanks to common radio frequencies set up between nations and knowing who to contact onshore for search assignments.
There could be improvements to satellite images, which do not effectively scan remote areas of ocean. None of between 2 million and 3 million possible sightings of the plane or its debris was correct.
Associated Press
[image courtesy Joint Agency Coordination Centre]


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