We’ve turned up some Landsat-8 satellite images from the area in the Gulf of Thailand, between Malaysia and Vietnam, where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing a few days ago. Landsat images, at 30-meter resolution, are much more detailed than the twice-daily MODIS images at 250m resolution. The image inset in the map below shows detail from Landsat-8 image P127/R54, taken at 03:27 GMT on March 8. That’s almost exactly 10 hours after air traffic controllers reported their last contact with Flight MH370 (at 17:30 GMT on Friday, March 7).
Nothing in this image jumps out strongly. But there is a faint, diffuse, pale anomaly not far west of the general location where we estimate MH370 was when contact was lost. It appears to be horseshoe-shaped.
The very approximate center of this is located at 8.551422° N latitude / 102.680976° E longitude.
As best I can tell, this anomaly seems to be high-altitude cloud or smoke; there is an even fainter dark anomaly to the west that suggests a shadow. But I have to say, this is quite speculative. It might also be some kind of phytoplankton bloom or other ocean-color feature. And if it is smoke, 10 hours seems like an awfully long time for it to hang around. See for yourself:
|Detail from Landsat-8 image (inset) showing location of pale anomaly relative to our estimate of MH370’s flight path (bold orange line) and waypoints discussed in our earlier blog post.|