Unsolved Mystery: Millions Still Crowdsourcing for Clues on Missing Plane

Mar 12, 2014 3:50pm

More than two million people helping conduct a painstaking search of commercial satellite images still haven’t found any definitive clues about the fate of 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Since the crowdsourcing effort was launched Monday by Colorado-based DigitalGlobe on its Tomnod website, users have viewed images of the search area more than 98 million times, according to the company.

“The hunt for Flight 370 continues as the crowd sifts through vast amounts of data,” DigitalGlobe’s Luke Barrington said today in an email to ABC News.

So many people have flooded the site that overwhelmed servers have occasionally slowed or crashed entirely.

DigitalGlobe has already uploaded images covering about 6,200 square miles of ocean, and another 8,700 square miles will go online in the next 24 hours, the representative said.

Users have tagged more than 645,000 objects so far, mostly oil slicks and ships involved in the search. Each satellite has the resolution to spot an object as small as a briefcase. Every pixel has been looked at by human eyes at least 30 times, according to the company, but so far there’s been no confirmed sign of the airliner.

On Tuesday, Mike Seberger, an I.T. project manager from Wayne, Ill., sent an image to ABC News that appeared to be a plane-shaped object.

However, a representative for DigitalGlobe has told ABC News the picture appeared to show two ships, not an aircraft.

Two of DigitalGlobe’s five satellites are still focused on the region, and target zones are constantly being evaluated and updated based on news from authorities.

“DigitalGlobe will continue to collect imagery of the search area and adapt its collection plans as new information becomes available,” Barrington said.

DigitalGlobe said it is not being paid for the search effort.

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