Bluefin 21- a robotic submarine - deployed to solve mystery of lost Malaysian plane MH370

Bluefin 21 - a robotic submarine - was deployed on 14 April 2014 to solve the mystery of the lost Malaysian plane MH370.

Created On: Apr 16, 2014 12:04 ISTModified On: Apr 17, 2014 12:54 IST

Bluefin 21Bluefin 21 - a robotic submarine - was launched on 14 April 2014 to solve the mystery of the lost Malaysian plane MH370. The decision of sending a Bluefin-21 was taken when the search team felt that the batteries of Black Box had expired making them incapable of sending signals.

This autonomous unmanned under water vehicle was launched from the Australian navy ship Ocean shield and would go under Indian Ocean.

This submarine can create three-dimensional sonar map of any debris on the seafloor by using its side-scan sonar.

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About Bluefin-21

  • It is autonomous, underwater, highly modular vehicle.
  • It can carry payloads and multiple sensors simultaneously.
  • Its high energy capacity makes it capable of carrying extended operations even at the greatest depths.
  • It can operate from various ships of opportunity worldwide.
  • Ease in transportability is another cause behind its application in time-critical and remote operations.
  • The vehicle design consists of battery modules, swappable payload sections for in-field mission reconfiguration. Its small size and capability to be launched and recovered from a simple A-frame or docking head allow it to take advantage of ships of opportunity. Use of INS provides the best possible navigation accuracy to Bluefin-21.

Background

Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 operating a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft on 8 March 2014 disappeared from the radar screens over the South China Sea with 239 people on board. The plane when disappeared was heading towards Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Initially a multinational team searched the plane in the South China Sea. Later it was learned that the plane had might have moved along two corridors:

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 1. Northern corridor (Border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand).
 2.  Southern corridor (Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean).

However, by analyzing satellite data, United Kingdom satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat and the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that Flight MH370 flew along the southern corridor. Its last known last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.

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