How Anyone With A Computer Can Help Search For The Missing Malaysian Aeroplane

Malaysia airlines mapCBSClick to enlarge this map of the search area.

A U.S. satellite operator is enabling anyone with Internet access to help search for the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared in the South China Sea days ago.

Digital Globe has sent two satellites to scour search zones over the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, and is broadcasting those images through tomnod.com. The website encourages viewers to look for any signs or clues that may point to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s whereabouts.

The search area is huge, according to this map from CBS News. The plane may have changed course before it disappeared — meaning that two separate seas need to be searched. It’s an area of thousands of square miles.

Onlookers on tonmod can tag areas of the images with labels, such as “Wreckage” for aeroplane remains, “Raft” to pinpoint life raft vessels visible in the water, “Oil Slicks” for traces of oil in the sea, and “Other” to mark miscellaneous objects that seem suspicious.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a satellite will make another pass over the area at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday. At the time of writing, Tomnod’s servers have been up and down likely due to a surge in traffic.

The flight, carrying 239 passengers, disappeared more than four days ago between Malaysia and Vietnam. A Vietnam Navy aircraft spotted two large oil slicks measuring between 6 and 9 miles long in the area where the vessel is believed to have disappeared. However, there’s no confirmation that these oil slicks are connected to the flight’s disappearance.

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