A Royal Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion returns to RAAF Base Pearce after continuing the search for debris or wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 26, 2014 in Perth, Australia.
Search planes and satellites scouring the vast Indian Ocean produced yet another tantalizing lead in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 - what appears to be a debris field of more than 100 objects. But the area is so large and the seas so rough that ships plying those waters have yet to find a single piece that could help solve the mystery.
The number of planes and ships searching has grown, but their job will be complicated by harsh weather moving in.
Photos taken on March 23 by French satellites have found a debris field with 122 objects spread out over 400 square miles that could be from the missing jetliner. Some of the pieces are as large as 75 feet long. The debris field is in the area where the plane was last recorded.
Australian organizers are expected weather to deteriorate Thursday with rain, high winds and rough seas which would hamper searchers' ability to operate.
No ships have been able to locate floating objects on water to see if they match the plane.
The search area in the southern portion of the Indian Ocean has been divided into east and west sectors by the Australians, who are coordinating the international effort.
Six planes have been assigned to fly search patterns over each of the sectors.
The current search area is some 469,407 square nautical miles, which is equal to 621,000 square miles on land. It is an area about the size of Alaska.
The FBI is still probing the pilot's at-home flight simulator for clues, but initial looks into the simulator found nothing suspicious.
Satellite Data Shows When, Where Plane Went Down
The Malaysian government announced Monday that new data, analyzed in a groundbreaking way by British company Inmarsat, showed the flight ended in the south Indian Ocean, 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia.
The data also showed that the plane went down between 8:10 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. local time.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday that there were likely no survivors of the flight. Many family members of the passengers are still holding out hope, demanding proof that the plane crashed.
What Is Being Used to Conduct the Search In the east sector
Australian P3 Orion
3 Australian civilian aircraft
1 Chinese IL-76
1 New Zealand P3 Orion
Chinese icebreaker Xue Long
In the west sector
1 US P8 Poseidon
1 Korean P3 Orion
1 Japanese P3 Orion
2 Australian P3 Orions, and one civilian aircraft.
The Australian ship HMAS Success, which left the area Monday because of bad weather, returned to search today.
A Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft headed for Austrlia to join the search.
The Passengers and Their Families
A Chicago law firm took the first step in filing litigation on behalf of the father of a man who was on the missing plane. The request for documents cites Malaysia Airlines and Boeing, which the made the 777 jetliner.
239 people were on board the flight, including 227 passengers (including one infant and one toddler) and 12 crew members.
Three Americans, including two children, are among the missing. Philip Wood, 50, an IBM executive, had just come from Texas where he was visiting family on his way to Beijing.
There was a total of 14 nationalities on board, but 152 passengers were Chinese.
Twenty passengers on the plane worked for the Austin, Texas, company Freescale Semiconductor. Another passenger, Chng Mei Ling, worked as an engineer for the Pennsylvania company Flexsys America LP.
Pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, was a veteran pilot who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981 and had over 18,000 flying hours.