Now we know for sure “there’s no way it went north,” said Inmarsat Senior Vice President Chris McLaughlin.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that the plane was last tracked over the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia. Malaysian Airlines has informed passengers’ relatives that “all lives are lost,” a relative told CNN.
Monday’s announcement brings new questions about the mystery that has captivated the planet for more than two weeks. It also provoked a call that all airliners be constantly tracked.
The mathematics-based process used by Inmarsat and the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) to reveal the definitive path was described by McLaughlin as “groundbreaking.”
“We’ve done something new,” he said.
Here’s how the process works in a nutshell: Inmarsat officials and engineers were able to determine whether the plane was flying away or toward the satellite’s location by expansion or compression of the satellite’s signal.
What does expansion or compression mean? You may have heard about something called the Doppler effect.
“If you sit at a train station and you listen to the train whistle – the pitch of the whistle changes as it moves past. That’s exactly what we have,” explained CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers,who has studied Doppler technology. “It’s the Doppler effect that they’re using on this ping or handshake back from the airplane. They know by nanoseconds whether that signal was compressed a little – or expanded – by whether the plane was moving closer or away from 64.5 degrees – which is the latitude of the orbiting satellite.”
Each ping was analyzed for its direction of travel, Myers said. The new calculations, McLaughlin said, underwent a peer review process with space agency experts and contributions by Boeing.
It’s possible to use this analysis to determine more specifically the area where the plane went down, Myers said. “Using trigonometry, engineers are capable of finding angles of flight.”
MSF relies heavily on Indian generic medicines to carry out its medical work in more than 60 countries. As President Barack Obama meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, let’s make sure they protect India’s patent law from being a target of the multi-national pharmaceutical industry: handsoff.msf.org
In a cache of leaked memos from the Sony organisation obtained by Wikileaks, an email written by Keith E. Weaver, executive vice president at Sony Pictures Entertainment, which produces Outlander, discusses a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron last summer.
Publication of the leaked email has further fuelled social media speculation that the UK Government did not want the show broadcast before the independence vote in September.
The speculation ran that the show’s depiction of heroic, Gaelic-speaking Highlanders fighting red-jacketed British soldiers would lead to a boost of the Yes vote at the referendum.
Although a spokeswoman of the Prime Minister declined to comment last night, an Outlander insider said that if Cameron had made an intervention on the transmission date of the show at the meeting, it would make sense.
The insider, with intimate knowledge of the show, said: “It makes complete sense as to why Sony took their foot off the pedal with UK sales. It was all systems go and they had the BBC up to see the set, etc, then there was a definite sense of trying to back pedal.”
In the background briefing document for a “PM Cameron event” last summer, Mr Weaver writes to other Sony executives: “Your meeting with Prime Minister Cameron on Monday will likely focus on our overall investment in the U.K. - with special emphasis on the jobs created by Tommy Cooper [the ITV show], the importance of Outlander (i.e., particularly vis-a-vis the political issues in the U.K. as Scotland contemplates detachment this Fall), and the growth of our channels business…”