Feeds

Inmarsat: Doppler effect helped 'locate' MH370

Mind you, we still haven't found the wreckage

Security for virtualized datacentres

As air and sea searches continue to try and identify and retrieve wreckage from Malaysia Airlines MH370's presumed crash site in the southern Indian Ocean, Inmarsat has briefed Reuters on how it estimated the path the flight took.

Since relatively early in the search for the flight, reference has been made to the seven “pings” Inmarsat satellites received from the aircraft after it stopped communicating with air traffic control.

Initially, those pings gave two possible tracks for MH370: one heading north-west, which gave rise to a huge number of conspiracy theories suggesting it had been hijacked and landed somewhere on that path; and one heading towards the Indian Ocean.

Inmarsat has now told Reuters it took a second look at the satellite pings, focussing on how much they deviated from the notional frequency of the transmitter, to try and decide which of the two paths the aircraft took.

If we ignore the Reuter's “19th century physics” angle, that's still an impressively accurate frequency resolution: taking the cruising velocity of the aircraft as around 250 m/second, its impact on a 1 GHz signal would be a change of around 0.08 per cent, even if MH370 had been flying directly at the satellite.

With Inmarsat at geostationary orbit, the Doppler effect on signals from the aircraft must truly be tiny. It's no surprise, then, that before releasing its results, Inmarsat passed its analysis to another company to check before making its announcement.

A discussion of the analysis has been published by the Malaysian Ministry of Transport, here.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the area offering the best prospects to locate wreckage is probably in the vicinity of the Southeastern Indian Ridge, a zone of underwater volcanoes that hasn't been surveyed for more than 20 years. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook's Zuckerberg in EBOLA VIRUS FIGHT: Billionaire battles bug
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contacted as site supremo coughs up
Space exploration is just so lame. NEW APPS are mankind's future
We feel obliged to point out the headline statement is total, utter cobblers
Down-under record: Australian gets $140k for pussy
'Tiffany' closes deal - 'it's more common to offer your wife', says agent
Internet finally ready to replace answering machine cassette tape
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
FedEx helps deliver THOUSANDS of spam messages DIRECT to its Blighty customers
Don't worry Wilson, I'll do all the paddling. You just hang on
The iPAD launch BEFORE it happened: SPECULATIVE GUFF ahead of actual event
Nerve-shattering run-up to the pre-planned known event
Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)
Over £200 worth of the good stuff up for grabs
STONER SHEEP get the MUNCHIES after feasting on £4k worth of cannabis plants
Baaaaaa! Fanny's Farm's woolly flock is high, maaaaaan
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Adorkable overshare of words like photobomb in this year's dictionaries
And hipsters are finally defined as self-loathing. Sort of
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.