How Nigerian Space agency joined the search for Missing Malaysian Airliner

Malaysia AirlineA SAD end has come in the frantic search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane as the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the aircraft crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, Nigeria through the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has made available several satellite imageries as a clue towards global efforts in the search for the missing Malaysian aircraft.
Search teams from 26 nations have poured over radar data and scoured a wide swath of Asia for weeks with advanced aircraft and ships in a deeply frustrating attempt to find the plane.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement to the families that “our prayers go out to all the loved ones of the 226 passengers and of our 13 friends and colleagues at this enormously painful time.”

“We know there are no words that we or anyone else can say which can ease your pain,” the airline said. “The ongoing multinational search operation will continue as we seek answers to the questions which remain unanswered.”

A Malaysia Airlines official, who declined to be named citing company policy, said there are no plans to fly the families to the Australian city of Perth until wreckage is found.
The plane’s disappearance shortly after take-off from Kuala Lumpur on a routine flight to Beijing has baffled investigators who have yet to rule out mechanical or electrical failure, hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or someone else on board.

Officials have said that the plane automatically sent a brief signal – a “ping” – every hour to the Inmarsat satellite even after other communication systems on the jetliner shut down.
The pings did not include any location information, but an initial analysis showed that the location of the last ping was probably along one of two vast arcs running north and south.
Najib said Inmarsat had done further calculations “using a type of analysis never used before in an investigation of this sort,” and had concluded that the plane’s last position was “in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.”

On Monday, ships rushed to the location of floating objects spotted by Australian and Chinese planes in the southern Indian Ocean close to where multiple satellites have detected possible remains of the lost airliner.

One ship was carrying equipment to detect the plane’s vital black box, but it remained uncertain whether the vessels were approaching a successful end to the search or another frustrating dead end.
The Guardian learnt that as a member of International Charter for Space and Major Disaster, Nigeria is required to contribute five per cent of its satellite imageries for peaceful uses.

Head, Media and Corporate Communications of the agency, Mr. Felix Ale, in a statement made available to The Guardian said the Space Agency in its efforts since the disappearance of Flight MH370 on March 8 has acquired several images which it made available to relevant Malaysian government department for further analyses.

The imageries are being analysed to spot debris that may indicate the possible location of the missing plane, its crew and passengers.

According to him, the Director-General of the agency, Prof. Seidu Mohammed, described the current situation as challenging not only to the Malaysian government, but to global developmental efforts.

He said vast expanses of the ocean need to be observed and searched thus requiring international efforts.

The NASRDA helmsman further stated that in a bid to garner resources towards a successful search, the United Nations (UN) and Malaysian government requested the assistance of leading space agencies worldwide, and NASRDA is playing its part.

Mohammed also sent his condolences to those affected by the tragedy, saying NASRDA is able to task its spacecraft to take pictures across the globe.

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Edition 52March 2014

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