KUALA LUMPUR – It has been suggested that Malaysia needs a low earth orbit satellite for monitoring and detecting communication frequencies following the disappearance of Malaysia Airline Flight MH370 on March 8.
The operator of Malaysia’s satellites, MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd said the need for such a satellite was pressing because it can be the (nation’s) ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ in space.
MEASAT Operations and Engineering deputy president, Zainudin Abdul said the satellite, stationed 300 km above earth, will have a high resolution camera system to take clear photographs, unobstructed by the atmosphere of the earth whether over air or sea.
Meanwhile, a radio frequency detection system can also detect or send much clearer signals to any ship or aircraft, he said.
“In this context, surveillance and tracking are two technologies which must be available on satellites on earth and outer space because it can simultaneously take photographs of the earth’s surface,” he said when met by Bernama yesterday.
On March 8, 2014, flight MH370, with 227 passengers and 12 crew, went off the radar while over the South China Sea, one hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41 am.
The aircraft should have arrived in Beijing, China at 6.30am on the same day.
Effort to find MH370 was still going on, but no firm evidence was found to date.
According to Zainuddin, when a satellite is in a low orbit, the photographs taken will be much clearer but the angle of view will be smaller dute to it being closer to Earth.
“If a satellite is placed at a high orbit, we will be able to see the whole surface of the earth but the photographs taken will be less clear because of the distance,” he said.
He said to take clear photographs of the whole surface of the earth required many satellites and continuous surveillance.
He said Malaysia currently had six satellites but they were all not of the low orbit type.
He said the United States and several European nations produced satellites of this type (low orbit satellites).
Zainuddin said the requirement was also in line with Malaysia’s aspirations which prior to this wanted the implementation of a real time aircraft detection system and sharing of information on flight risks.
This aspiration was stated by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai on Oct 25, and Malaysia will submit it including other matters to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which will meet in Canada next week.
The 203rd session of the ICAO Council is scheduled to take place in Montreal. – BERNAMA