Posts

The search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370; an image engineering approach

Scantherma will be holding a presentation for Engineers Australia to showcase its methods using different image engineering to assist with the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. The presentation will be held at the Engineers Australia WA Division in West Perth. Details to follow:

Abstract

On the 8th of March 2014, Malaysian Flight MH370 disappeared. What followed was an un-precedent search effort involving over a dozen countries and a combined search area of over 1/10th of the Earth’s surface. At no time in modern aviation has there been such a myriad of facets in the use of technology in finding an aircraft. Scantherma was tasked  to use its “object-based image analysis” (OBIA) algorithms to comb through hundreds of satellite images containing potential wreckage in the southern Indian Ocean. This proved to be a new approach in utilising image engineering to a totally different audience. After more than 3 weeks of analysis, the search using satellite imagery was abandoned. However, the exercise proved extremely useful in not only identifying new OBIA methods; but also its application towards oceanic remote sensing in general.

Image showing velocity of currents in the eastern Indian Ocean. Overlayed is the  search areas analysed by satellite imagery over 3 weeks in March and April, 2014. The input of current velocity and direction was crucial in setting up algorithms for the use of OBIA. [Source: Scantherma 2014]

Image showing velocity of currents in the eastern Indian Ocean. Overlayed is the search areas analysed by satellite imagery over 3 weeks in March and April, 2014. The input of current velocity and direction was crucial in setting up algorithms for the use of OBIA. [Source: Scantherma 2014]

Software Used
  • Trimble eCognition
  • Mappt
  • ER Mapper
  • QGIS
Acknowledgements
  • Christian Hoffmann (Trimble)
  • Trevor Marshall
  • Michael Breen
  • JJ Rodrigues

Perth remote sensing firm on MH370 mission

By Liam Croy [Story as it appeared in The West Australian – 3rd of April, 2014]

A Perth remote sensing company has been tasked with finding the wreckage of MH370. Welshpool-based Scantherma applies its mapping and imaging technologies across a range of residential, commercial, agricultural and resources projects. From iron ore exploration in the jungles of West Africa to energy efficient homes in Perth, Scantherma’s capabilities are diverse in nature and scale.

Chief executive Amir Farhand and his 11 staff do the bulk of their work in the resources industry, where they have teamed with BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group and the world’s largest iron ore producer, Brazilian corporation, Vale.

They are currently working with Samsung C&T on the Roy Hill project in the Pilbara. But after a “serendipitous” meeting at a recent mining expo in Hong Kong, Scantherma took on its biggest and most unique challenge yet.

“We were contacted by a very large insurance company which might have a big bailout because of this missing plane,” he said.

The Perth company was commissioned to use its “object-based image analysis” software to comb through hundreds of satellite images containing potential wreckage. They analysed 437 images of debris in the original southern Indian Ocean search area, before shifting their focus north-east last Wednesday based on ocean current data. Two days later, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority announced a new 319,000sq km search area in the same region.

“There was plenty of debris in those first 437 images but it wasn’t from the plane,” he said. “It was mostly white caps and sea junk. Global shipping lanes pass through that area to the south of Western Australia.

“What (AMSA) is doing is terrific because they’ve only got finite resources. Our stuff is done on computer but it takes four hours just for the planes to get out there.

“It’s just such a vast area. We’re in mining so we say it’s like trying to find Lasseter’s Reef.”

Mr Farhand said the insurance company was expected to call off the search this weekend when the plane’s black box was due to run out of battery. But for now, four US and Japanese satellites are scanning a search area nearly four times larger than AMSA’s site.

He said Scantherma’s chief remote sensing analyst was stationed in Florianopolis, Brazil, ready to identify any signs of MH370 in the next set of images.

“It’s been incredible. Most of the work we do is for mining companies, so it’s been terrific to be able to use this technology for a humanitarian purpose,” he said. “As a society, I think we need to embrace these types of technologies more.”

Original Article