Close Menu

A Case Study In Public Data Release: The Flight Path of Malaysia Airlines MH370


Oct 12, 2017 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm


111 Robert A. Pritzker Science Center


Stephen Kent
Former Head, Experimental Astrophysics Group, Fermilab


On March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air traffic control shortly after takeoff. The plane is believed to have been diverted onto a path that eventually led it to crash somewhere in the South Indian Ocean. The only clue we have to its final location is a set of satellite communication signals that continued up to the end of the flight. Under intense public pressure, the satellite signal communication logs were released, even though the data had not been fully analyzed by the search experts and it was not thought that the public would have the expertise to make use of them. Against expectations, members of the public proved capable of generating their own reconstructions of the flight path, in parallel with those of the official investigation. In this talk, Kent will review the timeline of the flight and the details of the satellite communications system, and the analyses that members of the public have performed to date. He will also present the status of the underwater search for remains of the plane and the recent discovery of numerous pieces of wreckage washing up onto the shores of East Africa.

Event Type: 

Physics - Colloquia