Europe’s Copernicus enters hunt for missing EgyptAir flight
PARIS– The European Space Agency on May 20 produced a radar satellite image of a 2-kilometer-long oil slick in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that ESA officials say could be from the missing EgyptAir MS804, which disappeared on May 19.
Egyptian military authorities on May 20 said they had found what they believed to be pieces of the plane.
ESA said it had provided investigating authorities with the image, taken at 16h GMT May 19. The image, from the Sentinel-1A radar Earth observation satellite, was shot in extra-wide swath mode of 400 kilometers in width, with horizontal polarization. The slick is located at 33°32′ N / 29°13′ E, or some 40 kilometers southeast of the location of the aircraft after its last signal.
ESA cautioned that, as yet, there is no confirmation that this oil slick is from the EgyptAir flight.
Two Sentinel-1 satellites are in orbit, with the second, launched April 22, still in testing. Both are owned by the European Commission’s Copernicus Earth observation program. Sentinel-1 managers have said having two satellites in orbit reduces the time between visits of a given area and will augment the ability of maritime authorities to track oil slicks, determine their source and end the practice of ships discharging their bilge tanks in the open ocean.