Chinese Satellites May Have Detected Debris from Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

Chinese satellite image of suspected floating objects from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH 370. Credit: China SASTIND/China Resources Satellite Application Center
See more satellite imagery below[/caption]

Chinese government satellites orbiting Earth may have detected floating, crash related debris from the missing Malaysian Airline flight MH-370 that disappeared without a trace last week – and which could be a key finding in spurring the ongoing and so far fruitless search efforts.

Today, Wednesday, March 12, Chinese space officials released a trio of images that were taken by Chinese satellites on Sunday, March 9, showing the possible crash debris in the ocean waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) posted the images on its website today, although they were taken on Sunday at about 11 a.m. Beijing local time.

I found the images today directly on SASTIND’s Chinese language website and they are shown here in their full resolution – above and below.

The Boeing 777-200ER jetliner went missing on Saturday on a flight en route from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia to Beijing, China.

The images appear to show “three floating objects in the suspected site of missing Malaysian plane,” according to SASTIND.

Satellite image of suspected floating objects from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH 370. Credit: China SASTIND/China Resources Satellite Application Center

The plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members mysteriously lost radio contact and vanished from radar while flying over the South China Sea. The transponder stopped sending signals.

And not a trace of the jetliner has been found despite days of searching by ships and planes combing a vast search area that expands every day.

Smaller versions of the satellites images and a video report have also been posted on China’s government run Xinhua and CCTV news agencies.

The three suspected floating objects measure 13 by 18 meters (43 by 59 feet), 14 by 19 meters (46 by 62 feet) and 24 by 22 meters (79 feet by 72 feet).

Chinese satellite image of suspected floating objects from the missing Malaysia Airlines plane MH 370. Credit: China SASTIND/China Resources Satellite Application Center

These suspected debris are surprising large, about the size of the jetliners wing, according to commentators speaking tonight on NBC News and CNN.

SASTIND said that “the three suspected objects were monitored at 6.7 degrees north latitude and 105.63 degrees east longitude, spreading across an area with a radius of 20 kilometers, according to Xinhua.

These coordinates correspond with the ocean waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, near the expected flight path.

“Some 10 Chinese satellites have been used to help the search and rescue operation,” reported CCTV.

Photo of Malaysia Air Boeing 777-200

China, the US, Malaysia and more than a dozen counties are engaged in the continuing search and rescue effort that has yielded few clues and no answers for the loved ones of the missing passengers and crew on board. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.

The search area currently encompasses over 35,000 nautical square miles.

Ships and planes are being dispatched to the location shown by the new satellite imagery to help focus the search effort and find the black boxes recording all the critical engineering data and cockpit voices of the pilot and copilot and aid investigators as to what happened.

No one knows at this time why the Malaysia Airlines flight mysteriously disappeared.

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, research scientist, freelance science journalist (KSC area,FL) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calendars including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, FOX, BBC,, Spaceflight Now, Science and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, NASA Wallops, NASA Michoud/Stennis/Langley and on over 80 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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