Satellite Images Could Help Discover What Happened to MH370

The search for the missing Malaysia Air flight enters its third week.
3:00 | 03/22/14

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Transcript for Satellite Images Could Help Discover What Happened to MH370
Hey, good morning. Let's get right to the breaking news and up fresh and inteaguing clue in the search for Malaysia flight 370. Here's the moment, Malaysian officials holding a news conference before we come on the air of the that's when they get an e-mail saying a Chinese satellite spotted a large object in the search area. This is it. Ships are now speeding to the area to investigate. So the question now is as the search enters its third week, is this the break that everybody has been hoping and waiting for? ABC's David Wright has the latest from Perth, Australia. David, good morning. Reporter: Good morning, Dan. This is very much a developing story right now. That bombshell dropped moments ago at the regular briefing by Malaysian authorities. It's not clear whether it's a solid lead or more false hope but we can say that by the end of the day today they have searched an area bigger than the state of California and found nothing but now there's a new place to look. Today the eyes in the sky included four military search planes plus two private jets. Down on the water, a Chinese ice breaker joined in the search and tomorrow, China and Japan will dispatch three additional search planes. Inevitably this is nevertheless the first credible evidence of anything that has happened to flight mh370. Reporter: So far despite five days scouring a huge swath of open sea no debris found. It's possible whatever it was in those satellite images captured six days ago has moved because of strong ocean currents. It's also possible, of course, that they've just drifted to the bottom of the ocean. Reporter: Searchers have their eyes and instruments focused on the surface watching for anything that floats. A debris field the best clue. Choppy waves and poor visibility are the least of their challenges. Even if the searchers do find the missing plane, it'll be a challenge to recover the cockpit recorders that may finally answer this riddle. Those-called black boxes emit locator pings at regular intervals until the batteries run out. Malaysian officials are requesting the U.S. Navy provide underwater microphones like these that can be towed from a boat to listen for those pings. Right now it is truly a race against the clock. The batteries on those black boxes running out, a tropical storm headed into the search area. The focus now is going to intensely be on those Chinese satellite images. Are they a solid lead? We'll keep you posted. Bianna. A potentially huge development. Dave, our thanks to you. Yeah, thank you, David. Let's bring in ABC news aviation consultant and former commercial pilot non-janice who joins us from Seattle. Let's talk about this Chinese satellite imagery. To you does it seem like a promising lead? Well, it's just as promising as the previous one if we can get there in time. Woe don't know when the pictures were taken, Dan. That was one of the things before was three days between the time the picture was and the time anybody started to search. This is about the right size for a wing or another portion of the airplane so it is intriguing and it has some promise if they can get there in time before it sinks or drift as way. Looking at the image right now. We just found out right before we Cale on the air that the image is four days old. Given that information, given the size of the search area and the chop of the seas there, how optimistic should we be about finding this? I think we need some luck. We need a lot of luck on this because the time is running out on the beepers or the piggers, rather, and this is a huge area of ocean. This is is one of the things we don't really completely understand. Worldwide, how big this planet really is and how poor relatively to what we think we have in terms of capability for sensors, how poor that capability really is. We can't see everything all the time. Give us a sense, if you will of how difficult an area this particular area is to search. Well, this area is very challenging. First of all, its one of the most remote oceans on the planet. Secondly, there's a lot of stormy activity especially this time of year, Christmas island is getting walloped right now but a typhoon that's north of the search area and you've got normally very high waves, sometimes as high as 40 and 50 feet. That can scatter wreckage pretty fast. John, one last question here. If we keep getting these satellite images days after the government takes them. This one came four days afterwards. Do you have a sense of what's going on here? Why are they waiting so long? Not waiting. They're processing. Just a gigantic amount of information and a tremendous number of pictures. These satellites are taking thousands of thought shows and to go over every one they're using algorithms as well as people but when they find them sometimes it's two or three days in. That's useful perspective to have. Like a needle in the haystack. John, thanks very much. Meanwhile relatives of the passengers on board the missing Malaysian airlines flight have been living a two-week agony with hopes raised and dashed as they wait for word. ABC's bob woodruff has been speaking with them in Kuala Lumpur. Bob. Reporter: Good morning, bianna. Yeah, this news certainly is going to have an impact on the family members. They've gone through it so many types before. Last week the Chinese satellite thought it identified debris. Turns out that was not true are the prime minister of Australia said there was another one discovered. They have not found that either. So the families really don't want to react much to this until something real has been found. With the search now concentrating on possible debris, Sara bayjack is praying her boyfriend Philip wood landed safely. Although that hope is fading. I'm cautiously pessimistic about this. I don't want it to be parts of the plane because I've been holding out that the passengers are still alive. Reporter: Patrick Gomez is the chief steward on flight 370. His four children and 2-year-old grandchildren Rafael and wife Jackie have kept a candle burning in his bedroom so even his soul could find its way home. If it's in the ocean, it brings us closure, but we hope that the hijacking and all that, somewhere, then there's hope that he's still alive. And he'll come back to us. But if it's in the ocean it's final, you know. He comes back in a different way. Which is all that we want. Reporter: What does Rafael feel about this. He has no idea. Reporter: He has no idea it's happening. There is also anger bubbling among the families. At the news conference this week a protest from this Chinese mom and then dragged away into a separate room. The Gomez family is stunned. Painful to watch that. She's so upset and then, you know, you just -- the way they dragged her off to that room, that was bad. Reporter: At the hotels there is growing depression. Medical and psychological concerns for the families. You had to call an ambulance. Yeah, because elderly people are passing out and we need to call ambulances. My cousin just said that, you know, god has plans for all of us. So maybe god has a good plan for him up there. He needed him to fly one of his aircraft. You know? Or cook him a good meal. Reporter: Now, Jacqui and her daughters don't want to watch this. This he's so tired of this.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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