Company asks people to search satellite images to help find missing Malaysia Airlines plane

DENVER - A Colorado company is providing satellite images that may be crucial in the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777.

DigitalGlobe owns and operates five private satellites. The images taken from their positions about 400 miles above the earth, are so precise, a clear picture of a home plate on a baseball field can clearly be captured. The U.S. government and others around the globe are some of the company’s clients.

In the case of the missing jumbo jet, Flight MH370, the images are also being made available to the public. The concept is called crowdsourcing. The goal is to have as many eyes survey the pictures in an attempt to find clues. 

With the help of the website Tomnod.com viewers can review the images and then make notes that are sorted and then forwarded to official channels.

"This is a real needle in the hack stack problem. Except the haystack is in the middle of the ocean," said Luke Barrington of DigitalGlobe. "We'll ask you to mark anything that looks interesting, any signs of wreckage or life rafts.

Barrington said thousands of people are also helping in real time to scan through the images.

"In many cases the areas covered are so large, or the things we're looking for are so hard to find, that without the help of hundreds of thousands of people online we'd never be able to find them."

By Tuesday afternoon, Tomnod.com said it had 500,000 visitors in the last 24 hours, viewing 1 million maps an hour.

The images collected by the company have helped track damage from disasters including the Moore, Okla., tornado and the September floods in Colorado.

In one case, the technology helped to locate the remains of two missing hikers in Peru.

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