The Search for MH370 Debris Is Taking Place in One of the Most Inaccessible Spots on Earth

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 21 2014 10:33 AM

"It's About The Most Inaccessible Spot That You Could Imagine on the Face of the Earth"

479809579-this-handout-satellite-image-made-available-by-the-amsa
This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the planned search area for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 on March 21, 2014

Photo by AMSA via Getty Images

Another day with no signs of the missing jetliner, via CBS/AP:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Search planes scoured a remote patch of the Indian Ocean but came back empty-handed Friday after a 10-hour mission looking for any sign of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, another disappointing day in one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries.
Australian officials pledged to continue the search for two large objects spotted by a satellite earlier this week, which had raised hopes that the two-week hunt for the Boeing 777 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board was nearing a breakthrough. But Australia's acting prime minister, Warren Truss, tamped down expectations. "Something that was floating on the sea that long ago may no longer be floating—it may have slipped to the bottom," he said. "It's also certain that any debris or other material would have moved a significant distance over that time, potentially hundreds of kilometers."
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Adding to the incredibly difficult task facing the search effort is the fact that the patch of ocean currently being sweeped is roughly 1,550 miles southwest of Perth—or about halfway between Australia and the  desolate islands of the Antarctic. The distance from land means that it is taking the aircraft doing the searching four hours to get there and another four hours to get back. That, according to Aussie officials leading the effort, leaves most of the planes currently doing the heavy lifting with only enough fuel to search for about two hours at a time. "It's about the most inaccessible spot that you could imagine on the face of the earth," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference in Papua New Guinea.

The search will resume on Saturday, when additional planes are expected to arrive to help in the effort. A small flotilla of ships coming to Australia from China, meanwhile, is still several days away, according to USA Today.

Friday is/was Day 14 of the search, meaning we're almost at the halfway point of the typical life of the battery that powers the beacon in the plane's black box.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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