A Decade-Long Search: Scientists Think They Found The Key To Finding Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

By Alan Hume | Tuesday, 12 March 2024 08:30 PM
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The enigma of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, an international flight that vanished from radar systems on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China, with 239 passengers on board, remains unresolved.

Over a decade later, the quest to locate the wreckage and ascertain the cause of the flight's disappearance is ongoing.

In a surprising twist, a flaperon linked to MH370, discovered a year after the incident on Reunion Island off the African coast, may provide a fresh lead. The flaperon was found encrusted with gooseneck barnacles, known scientifically as Lepas anatifera, which scientists believe could hold crucial information about the aircraft's final location.

Researchers are now focused on decoding the data contained within the Lepas anatifera. The barnacles' shells, much like tree rings, carry a record of their life. By deciphering this information, scientists hope to trace the barnacles' journey back to the flaperon's impact site.

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David Griffin, an oceanographer tasked with locating the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, expressed optimism about this new lead. "We stumbled upon something that gave much more certainty about the plane’s whereabouts than we anticipated," he stated.

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According to New York Magazine, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 presented an unprecedented aviation mystery. The only clues were cryptic electronic signals suggesting the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean west of Australia. The discovery of the flaperon on Reunion Island in July 2015 provided the first tangible evidence that the plane had indeed crashed into the remote southern patch of the ocean.

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The barnacles attached to the flaperon could potentially solve the mystery. "We stumbled upon something that gave much more certainty about the whereabouts of the plane than we anticipated," said Griffin, who led a team of Australian government scientists in the investigation.

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The discovery of the flaperon and its barnacles has spurred a decade of global research into the Lepas anatifera, a previously obscure organism. This research has unlocked the barnacles' potential as natural data loggers in various investigations, from tracking harmful "ghost nets" that pose a threat to wildlife, to locating missing boats and investigating mysterious deaths.

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However, as marine biologists applied their newfound knowledge to the case of the missing plane, they discovered that the barnacles, rather than resolving mysteries, revealed new ones. The quest to decode the secrets of the Lepas anatifera and, in turn, the fate of Flight MH370, continues.

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