Major breakthrough in MH370 mystery as nuclear sensor picks up crucial sound

18 June 2024, 00:42

Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane
Pressure signals could be used to locate the missing plane. Picture: Alamy/Google Maps

By Emma Soteriou

Experts have had a major breakthrough in the mystery surround the missing MH370 flight after nuclear sensors picked up crucial sounds.

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The Boeing 777 plane carrying 239 people, mostly Chinese nationals, from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Beijing vanished from radar shortly after taking off on March 8, 2014.

It sparked the largest search in aviation history, with the aircraft still having not been found.

But there is fresh hope after researchers at Cardiff University analysed over 100 hours of underwater audio for any further clues.

Experts believe hydrophones, which are used to monitor pressure changes, could be the key to figuring out what happened to the aircraft.

An underwater signal in the ocean, thought to have been caused by the plane hitting the waves, has already been pinpointed.

Read more: MH370 would have crashed with force of 'small earthquake' as researchers believe underwater sounds could solve mystery

Read more: MH370 breakthrough as investigators plan to use sea explosions to solve mystery of aircraft's location

A wing flap found on Pemba Island, Tanzania has been identified a missing part of Flight MH370
A wing flap found on Pemba Island, Tanzania has been identified a missing part of Flight MH370. Picture: Getty

Mathematician and engineer Dr Usama Kadri and his team have been looking at signals from the time the flight went missing over the Southern Indian Ocean.

One unidentified event in an area known as the Seventh Arc was picked up - which is also where the last known satellite communication with MH370 occurred.

Hydrophones were used at Western Australia's Cape Leeuwin and the US Indian Ocean naval base on the same night the flight went missing.

They may have detected the sound of the plane crashing, Dr Kadri said.

Writing in The Conversation, he said: "A 200-tonne aircraft crashing at a speed of 200 metres per second would release the kinetic energy equivalent to a small earthquake.

"It would be large enough to be recorded by hydrophones thousands of kilometres away.

"Given the sensitivity of the hydrophones, it’s highly unlikely that a large aircraft impacting the ocean surface wouldn’t leave a detectable pressure signature, particularly on nearby hydrophones.

"But unfavourable ocean conditions could potentially dampen or obscure such a signal."

The Boeing 777 aircraft disappeared from radars while carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew
The Boeing 777 aircraft disappeared from radars while carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew. Picture: Alamy

Dr Kadri continued: "Given the sensitivity of the hydrophones, it’s highly unlikely that a large aircraft impacting the ocean surface wouldn’t leave a detectable pressure signature, particularly on nearby hydrophones.

"But unfavourable ocean conditions could potentially dampen or obscure such a signal.

"The analysis identified only one relevant signal in the direction of the seventh arc, recorded at the Cape Leeuwin station.

"But this signal was not detected at the Diego Garcia station. This raises questions about its origin."

The latest revelation comes after it was suggested that a series of controlled underwater explosions could help in finding a more precise location of the wreckage.

The system was previously used in the search for ARA San Juan, an Argentinian sub that disappeared in 2017.

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