- Posted May 20, 2014 by
Why (part of?) MH370 is in the Gulf of Thailand.
What if MH370 actually went down in the Gulf of Thailand ?
If the much heralded Inmarsat data is released soon, then experts may soon get a crack at doing their own calculations. It may result in new and interesting interpretations. I leave that for mathematicians and "rocket scientists".
But what of hard evidence or human observation ? In the earliest days of the search for Flight 370, several sightings were made in the Gulf of Thailand. None of these resulted in any tangible debris being recovered.
But what if there were debris seen in satellite imagery near the same area? And what if that area was in the area where the missing aircraft began its supposed big turn ? And what if the area is very near where the last voice communication was made ?
We have a convergence of a known radio communication, a actual satellite image of known location, the last known location of the aircraft, and two human reports --- in what I dub the "IGAR Triangle".
The "IGAR Triangle" encompasses the following locations, as plotted on the enclosed Google Earth map ("the IGAR Triangle").
#4 : location of Songa Merkur (drilling ship) when "kiwi" reported seeing fire in the sky.
#1 : on the bottom, or south, by MH370's last known radio contact.
#3 : on the west by the Vietnamese sighting of an aircraft door.
My data point -- which I believe helps support the reliability of the other observations and data -- is from satellite imagery. I will call this "object-X". It is close to the lower corner of the triangle and marked as "2" on "the IGAR Triangle" map image. The Tomnod project
satellite images of Object-X, and my own photoanalysis manipulations of them, are shown in the attachments.
My observations about Object-X are based on having looked at over 150,000 "tiles" of Tomnod project's satellite imagery. I have seen a lot of waves, boats, ships, aircraft, debris and other junk in the water in these images.
Object-X can be seen on Tomnod's tile mapping system as "Map # 145xsy1a". It is seen on the attached images, beginning with number "A1". Please feel free to view it yourself.
I believe this object worthy of study because of the satellite acquisition date by DigitalGlobe. Note that it is on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 3:49 AM UTC -- i.e. Greenwich Mean Time. The corresponding local time in Malaysia, as noted on the image is 11:49 AM. This is within a day and a half after the aircraft was listed missing. I have seen no public or official reports on the target area of the Vietnamese air search that spotted the "door" object this same afternoon. So I don't know if they missed it, or did not search in the same area as Object-X is seen.
It is unlikely that surface water-craft searched the immediate area of Object-X for several reasons. There are at least two and possibly more oil or gas drilling platforms within a mile to two miles of Object-X.
Mariners guides for the Gulf strongly advise giving these platforms a very wide berth. Given the enormous capital investment these rigs represent, they do not want them damaged or attacked. And the presence of highly flammable and/or explosive gas and oil in or around the rigs, means they are very unlikely to welcome unauthorized visitors.
Various sources report that some of these rigs may not even be marked for nighttime visibility. Although I have not confirmed it, I believe the rigs that can be seen in nearby "tiles" are situate in Malaysian waters. Whether the Malaysian government would have wanted Vietnamese patrol boats to look in these waters is not known to me, but it doesn't seem likely given the hazards.
Having said this, it is not surprising I could not spot any watercraft anywhere within several miles of these rigs. See attachment numbered "M2" for a large map video image of a number of the map tiles, including the nearest rig and Object-X.
Object-X is not a boat. It is not a wave. The surrounding seas are calm, as no whitecaps are seen. Just some wispy clouds. There is more moisture in the air in these tiles. [The images are not as clear as other Tomnod maps acquired on clear, sunny days.]
The object is approximately 5 meters by about 1.5-2 meters in size. It is presumably not a zodiac-boat, or yacht tender because no 'mother ship" is nearby. [As noted above, they would not be expected anyway, given the presence of gas rigs nearby.] The object seems
too large to be "trash". Usually in this satellite imagery, trash is like rats -- if you see one there are probably a lot more close by. Not so with Object-X. Object-X has what appears to be adiscernible shadow on the right-hand side. This suggests some part of it is above the surface level at the moment the satellite image was taken. Trash would have to be pretty bulky to cast a observable shadow at this resolution.
Could the Bluefin find Object-X and why should it try ?
The Tomnod satellite image discussed above is over two months old now. Given currents and other factors, this debris object is long gone: either out to the South China Sea or to the bottom of the Gulf. But it represents a hard data sighting which supports the Vietnamese report and the "Kiwi's" report. I'll touch on that momentarily. The Vietnamese saw, but could not locate the next day, what they thought could be an aircraft's door. About 50 or 60 miles south of their sighting, we see Object-X.
Would underwater debris like Object-X be observable from the air ? According to other sources, the Gulf has an average depth of 50m. But a part of the Gulf is up to 80 meters in depth. Water salinity and density may also be a adverse factor in locating anything on the bottom from the air. According to one source March through May is the first Inter-Monsoon Season. A study of the water temperature and salinity remarked that there was a significant flow of low-temp high-salinity water coming into the central basin of the Gulf from the South China Sea in this period. The current flow was said to be quite strong in the deeper water.
This temperature gradient might make sonar soundings or other search methods unreliable. And the current may have carried some debris further up into the Gulf. A search of this area would probably require the use of a towed submersible rather than aerial or
sonar methods, to be successful. And clearly it would require political and safety approval due to the gas or oil rigs in the vicinity.
Why try ? Object-X, the Vietnamese "door", the last known location, and the last known voice radio contact .... all within about a 50 mile radius of each other.
And lastly, the human factor. Is the "kiwi" emailed report of an observation of a burning aircraft related ? Turning again to "Igar Triangle" map, we note that the observer felt the bearing of the aircraft was at between 265-275 degrees relative to the Songa Merkur. This
would give a sight line in a westerly direction. It is a bit over 400 miles from where the Songa Merkur was on the night he made his reported observation. Could he have seen an aircraft at nearly 35000 feet or less ? According to one table of data, an observer would be
able to see about 260 miles. If the aircraft did, as somewhere suggested, get to 45000 feet, an observer would be able to see out to about 290 miles. I don't know if the "kiwi" or anyone else was using binoculars, but this could have increased their sight distance.
His report asserts at least a part of the aircraft was burning. Which raises the question that if a large ball of fire is in the sky, how far away can people see it ? Consider meteorites as an example. Some sources say we can observe meteorites falling to earth from
upwards of 800 miles away [depending on their size and cloud conditions.]
His story fits with the Vietnamese sighting and other hard data. And this is why the IGAR Triangle merits a search by Bluefin or other towed array in the Gulf.