News reports today such as this one at Bloomberg News indicates that wreckage from Air France Flight 447 that crashed in 2009 has been discovered. This is the fourth attempt to locate the final resting spot of the crash site and recover its black boxes

This latest attempt just began a few days ago, and involves the use of robotic submarines (Remus 6000s) from at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

According to this story at Times Live, French Transport Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet is quoted as saying that:

"This is a large part of the plane, in one piece."

A few weeks ago, Air France and Airbus were charged in France with manslaughter in regard to the crash. Both companies say that without the information from the aircraft's black boxes being available for their defense, that it is an unfair charge.

Update 05 April 2011:

News stories like this one at the New York Times are now reporting that large amounts of wreckage as well as bodies of passengers on AF 447 have been found, but still no black boxes as of yet.  The Times story says that previous searches had recovered 50 bodies - 45 passengers and 5 of the crew including the plane's captain. It will take at least a month before the newly found remains and wreckage are recovered.

The majority of the wreckage seems to be in a debris field measuring approximately 600 meters by 200 meters, and was located very close to the last known location of the aircraft. Questions are being raised by the families of the survivors as to why this area was not thoroughly searched before, the Times article says.

The article noted that:

"Previous search efforts had scoured a vast, 2,800-square-mile section of seabed to the northwest of the plane’s last known location. That search area was defined by accident investigators using computer models of the currents and wind direction in the days after the crash."

No doubt these models will be reviewed in light of the discovery of the wreckage.

The Conversation (0)
Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.


For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

Keep Reading ↓Show less