DENVER - A Colorado-based company has put "crowdsourcing" to work in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet, enlisting Internet users to comb through satellite images of more than 1,200 square miles (3,200 square km) of open seas for any signs of wreckage, the company said on Tuesday.
At least 600,000 volunteers have logged onto a website run by DigitalGlobe Inc to scan images the company uploaded from two of its five satellites covering an area between the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea where the jetliner was first believed to have vanished on Saturday.
The Boeing 777-200ER, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, had taken off from Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, on a flight bound for Beijing when it lost contact with civilian air traffic controllers.
The Malaysia Airlines aircraft was initially thought to be roughly midway between Kota Bharu, a town on West Malaysia's eastern coast, and the southern tip of Vietnam, flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,670 meters), when it disappeared.
The country consists of West Malaysia, a peninsula south of Thailand, and East Malaysia in northern Borneo.
Navy ships, military aircraft, helicopters, coast guard and civilian vessels from 10 countries have crisscrossed both coasts of West Malaysia in an effort to find the plane, deepening one of the most baffling mysteries in recent aviation history.
DigitalGlobe, based in Longmont, Colorado, began placing satellite images on its crowdsourcing website, Tomnod, on Monday and invited the public to join in the search by closely examining the pictures for any sign of the plane.
"We have hundreds of thousands of users combing pixel by pixel through our imagery. Even if we don't find something, that's an indication there might not be anything there," said Shay Har-Noy, the founder and director of research and development at DigitalGlobe.