In a search full of spurious leads, floating garbage, and nonsense satellite images, the only real hope for answers has turned on finding the black box data recorder belonging to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And now a Chinese coast guard ship is saying it might have heard it.
Before you read any further there's plenty out there to hedge. Despite mountains of flotsam and debris floating in the Indian Ocean, no physical evidence of the missing plane has been found. It's still as if the entire Boeing 777 simply vanished. A lot of the search has now hinged on finding the plane's missing black boxes, the voice recorder and the flight data recorder, which are thought to be submerged somewhere in the ocean. The batteries within them, powering a "pinger" which serves as a homing beacon to potential rescuers, is only supposed to last thirty days at most.
The plane disappeared on March 8th. It is now April 5th. Time is running out to find these boxes using conventional means, if it hasn't already.
All that being said, a locator being used by Chinese coast guard cutter Haixun 01 has heard a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5 kHz, according to the Chinese state Xinhua news agency.
37.5 kHz is the same frequency of the noise emitted by the pinger in the black box, and is not a noise known to be made by anything not made by humanity.
The noise itself must now be investigated, and Chinese planes have reportedly spotted debris in the area. And even if it is the black box, Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said that it'll be weeks before anyone is able to find the rest of the plane.
Again, it can't be stressed enough how much we don't know. First and foremost is the question of why only one signal was heard, when both black boxes had pingers. And furthermore, though it seems unlikely that the noise was created by anything else, the signal is still unverified.
We should be finding out what's causing all that noise under the ocean pretty soon, though.