Ask The Satellites

Here’s the latest infrared image of the Atlantic Ocean region that includes the path of AF447:


France is asking the U.S. DoD for help in finding clues:

France has also asked Washington to scan data from its spy satellites and electronic intelligence facilities for clues.

US Air Force Defense Support Program (DSP) missile warning satellite data, collected early 1 June over the central Atlantic, will be examined to see if a breakup or impact of a crashing aircraft was captured.

Experts say two or three Northrop Grumman DSPs constantly scan that region of the Earth with powerful infrared telescopes. The satellites, based in geosynchronous orbit at nearly 23,000 miles in altitude, are designed to detect the heat from the launch of land or sea based ballistic missiles.

Each satellite carries a 6,000 element mercury-cadmium-telluride detector which is capable of discriminating not only missile launches but other thermal phenomenon such as lightning, meteorites and aircraft that are flying on afterburner or on fire.

Other systems being tapped for data will include two new Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) sensors onboard two National Reconnaissance Office spacecraft in highly elliptical orbits. Unlike DSPs, the new SBIRS satellites are yet to provide continual coverage of all areas of Earth. It remains to be seen if a SBIRS system was pointing in the area of the crash.

SIGINT (signal intelligence) "eavesdropping" spacecraft data will also be examined for unusual static or other transmissions which may have been picked up coming from the stricken aircraft.