Could 'Dull Oomph' Be Clue to Missing Jet?

Undersea receivers picked up mysterious noise
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2014 9:13 AM CDT
Could 'Dull Oomph' Be Clue to Missing Jet?
In this April 1, 2014, photo, an observer on a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft takes photos out of a window while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Southern Indian Ocean.   (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, Pool, File)

Nearly three months later, we still don't know what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—but right around the time it vanished on March 8, two undersea receivers in the Indian Ocean recorded a strange, low-frequency noise. "It’s not even really a thump sort of a sound—it’s more of a dull oomph," says the lead researcher investigating the noise, which could be that of an ocean impact. But the area from which the noise originated, an area about the size of Texas 3,000 miles northwest of Australia, is not consistent with the arc of possible locations the plane could have gone down calculated by satellite communications company Inmarsat.

Scientists are releasing detailed information about the sound tomorrow, the New York Times reports. So far, though the Australian government has funded research into the sound, the country's authorities have been hesitant to order a new search based on the noise, particularly since the area indicated is thousands of miles from the Inmarsat search area. "If you ask me what’s the probability this is related to the flight, without the satellite data it’s 25 or 30%, but that’s certainly worth taking a very close look at," says the lead researcher. Though the chances seem slim, another acoustics expert at the headquarters of the organization to which one of the receivers belongs says the noise could be explained by a "sealed, air-filled container" sinking into the depths and eventually crumpling due to water pressure. (More Flight 370 stories.)

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