Steve Fossett Missing: Help find him by searching satellite imagery
September 9, 2007 7:00 AM   Subscribe

This is a great idea but are sat images updated frequently enough?
posted by wangarific at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2007

Through the generous efforts of individuals at several organizations, detailed satellite imagery has been made available for his last known whereabouts.

My impression is that this is very recent satellite data we're talking about here.
posted by barnacles at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2007

you need an account? meh...
posted by spish at 7:20 AM on September 9, 2007

Are we searching 2001 satellite imagery for a 2007 crash?
posted by rolypolyman at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2007

A good psychic could make use of the old images.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:02 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow. I just found Glenn Miller.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2007 [8 favorites]

I've been repeated flying over the area in X-Plane on the lookout, but have so far come up with nothing.

Will keep trying.
posted by mazola at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2007

where's waldo?
posted by the cuban at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2007

Of course this only works if Steve Fossett wants to be found.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2007

I like this idea. But if we're looking for a foreign object, surely it shouldn't be too hard to write a program to scan all of the imagery for non-brown pixels?
posted by randomination at 8:45 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, this is just the help they need: several thousand false leads. "Oh, I think I saw him...oh, no, that's just an old barn."
posted by Lockjaw at 8:48 AM on September 9, 2007

Man missing, almost certainly dead. People who care disguise their powerlessness by engaging in futile labor. Film at 11.
(but as an FYI, this imagery is indeed brand-spanking-new, made available by Google specifically for this, thanks to Richard Branson nagging them)
posted by mek at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2007

Well, this is a better plan than looking for someone lost in the ocean, since people who crash on land don't tend to float around or sink.
posted by smackfu at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2007

you need an account? meh...

Fight the power dude.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 AM on September 9, 2007

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posted by LarryC at 8:56 AM on September 9, 2007

Honestly, this is pretty cool. Still a case of rich guys get the best resources, but this would have been James Bond stuff up until very recently.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2007

Question: we have satellite, Google imagery , Rectal colonoscopy , YouNameIt , YouTube, TeleDildonic......

....and no distress signal button ? Water activated ? Barometer activated ? Corpse decay activated ?

How friggin ridiculous is that ?
posted by elpapacito at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2007

Not only is Fossett's plane equipped with an ELT (but apparently a notoriously bad one) but he also wears a watch that's equipped with a 90-mile ELT. Neither have been detected.
posted by mek at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2007

Well, I'm a bit slow, but we do. They're called EPIRBs. The ones used on bigger boats are water-activated and float free when the boat sinks (since they only work on the surface).
posted by smackfu at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2007

call him on his cell phone.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2007

item -

You are an ass for that statement.
posted by tgrundke at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2007

i doubt the multimillionaire adventurer would search for any of us. this is all probably his own dumbass fault. i just hope he's decided to do something noble and charitable with his wealth if he dies, cause world gilder records and the like don't seem to be very productive.
posted by dopamine at 9:53 AM on September 9, 2007

I went through a couple hundreds pics. The count in the top left is dropping dramatically and soon will reach zero. I did find one that could be a trail of debree (sp?), but when I clicked to accept the HIT I wasn't logged in. After logging in I was returned to a different potential image, so I'm not sure they registered my help.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:05 AM on September 9, 2007

I am on the let them drink champagne side as well. Fossett lived as an "adventurer" thanks to his wealth. Well, adventurers do die sometimes on their adventures, no matter how wealthy.

I've been out in that desert -- far out. You wouldn't last two days without water, a week without food, or much longer without a way to stay cool in the day and warm at night. He's dead. We all know it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:09 PM on September 9, 2007

Do I get anything doing this? Other than a worthless sense of accomplishment?
posted by stavrogin at 12:47 PM on September 9, 2007

I mean if I find him.
posted by stavrogin at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2007

Wow. A bunch of assholes calling a dead guy an asshole. Who else wants to piss on this guy's grave?
posted by bukharin at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2007

The HIT you were viewing cannot be accepted.

You can work on this HIT by clicking the "Accept HIT" button.

*clicks "Accept HIT"*

The HIT you were viewing cannot be accepted.

You can work on this HIT by clicking the "Accept HIT" button.

Repeat. Did they find him yet?
posted by afx237vi at 1:08 PM on September 9, 2007

Well, of course, bukharin. He didn't give all of his worldly wealth to the destitute and take to wandering the streets in rags, like all the people in this thread did. I mean, for fuck's sake, he spent his money on balloons and boats and things! You'd think he'd at least spend his money on selfless things like oddly-capitalized recumbent bicycles and Apple products.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by enn at 1:12 PM on September 9, 2007

I don't understand the reaction in this thread.

When James Kim went missing, several people suggested a distributed search of satellite photography might have been a great way to find him before he died.

How is this different? Why shouldn't we look for Fossett? Because he's wealthy??
posted by szechuan at 2:49 PM on September 9, 2007

^ szechuan . . . Kim blundered into a situation any one of us Californians could have . . . Fosset is an old rich guy who went out looking for trouble and apparently found it.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:00 PM on September 9, 2007

To help you warm up.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:14 PM on September 9, 2007

This thread epitomizes the absolute worst in metafilter: poor people = good, wealthy people = bad. Humanists = good, adventurers/entrepreneurs = bad.

I just don't get it. I really just don't get it. Fossett was an adventurer and yes, he was wealthy. Why is he somehow not worthy of being saved by any means possible? He probably had a lot of influential friends who are using their means to help find him - why is this bad?
posted by tgrundke at 4:39 PM on September 9, 2007

tgrundke: Well, my guess is because it reminds all of us that if we disappeared, very few people would notice. Fossett may not have contributed to the betterment of humanity, but he certainly had balls.
posted by anthill at 4:59 PM on September 9, 2007

I examined a bunch of images, but it seems to me it would be much faster to just mechanically compare this satellite image with the last image taken before he disappeared. Surely that's a well-studied problem, finding new man-made objects in successive aerial photos while ignoring minor changes in vegetation and lighting. It doesn't seem like all the software in question would still be classified.
posted by hattifattener at 5:07 PM on September 9, 2007

Secret tip, Item - I would take your response more seriously if you wouldn't refer to someone who just died as a "fuck".

Another secret tip: life ain't fair. Some people have more than other people. They have more fame, more fortune, more good looks, more money, more influence. For those who have made a name for themselves, like Fossett, they're going to get more attention than others.

Nobody else is saying he's more important than anyone else, just that it's a newsworthy event. It's also newsworthy that people are utilizing technology in the hunt to find him.

Who knows - maybe this same said technology will help find Joe Average the next time he/she gets lost in the wilderness or drops off the radar map.

And yes, I think that there would be a lot of media attention if my glider caught a draft. The media jumps all over stories of people lost on Lake Erie and follows them to happy or sad conclusions.
posted by tgrundke at 5:39 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, item, you seem really angry and bitter at someone who's never done you any harm.

Maybe you should go outside, get some fresh air.

I looked at a few dozen pictures, but he wasn't there.
posted by MythMaker at 5:40 PM on September 9, 2007

anthill -

I agree, that's probably the reason others around here are pissy. For some reason the attitude around Metafilter is that if you don't work for the betterment of humanity in some way, you're a prick.

I don't care how much money Fossett had, he did have balls and did things that most people wouldn't. Makes him a good enough person in my book.
posted by tgrundke at 5:42 PM on September 9, 2007

Wow, MeFi has really hit bottom on this thread.

@item - You've already won the 'Most Callous Person of the Year' award. You can stop now.
posted by mokolabs at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2007

Well...I found an aircraft and reported it. I don't know if it his. I read that they have found 5 or 6 other unreported crash sites while looking for him, so...

Found at: 38 33'44.19"N, 119 19'37.13"W
posted by Slacktastic at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe the plane crashed in that hole you're digging for yourself.
posted by smackfu at 6:58 PM on September 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

slacktastic: Did you punch it up in Google Earth? It's not on the older (non-overlay) imagery. It looks like a high-wing aircraft, but the handy google ruler makes it seem a little bit bigger than the Decathlon. Hard to say due to pixelation. Good eyes...
posted by tss at 7:14 PM on September 9, 2007

It's easy to be a hard case when you're just pixels on a screen.

You know who else was a bunch of fucks? Everyone you ever cared about that I didn't. Fuck them all, those fucking fucks. Yeah, and your dead granny too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:16 PM on September 9, 2007

This goes way back and it's personal. Item was trying to eat this baby, see, a privileged scion of a dastardly dynasty running an unscrupulous American keiretsu no less, and Steve Fossett swooped down in a gleaming white Nimbus-4, made from fiberglass mopped from the brows of the underpriveleged and carried aloft by his own sense of self-entitlement y'see, and snatched it from right in front of Item's gaping, snake-like mandible. Harsh.

Anyway, carry on everyone. I like looking for the plane during work breaks because it seems mildly exciting. The CAP ought to work out a deal with Google; I'd do this for anyone.
posted by tss at 7:30 PM on September 9, 2007

It's not that he's not worthy of being saved. He's a human being, and probably a decent one, and of course he is.

The problem is that there is almost zero chance he is alive.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:12 PM on September 9, 2007

Wait, Bob Fosse's missing? I thought he was dead!
posted by Floydd at 8:14 PM on September 9, 2007

Seems as though they're finding everything but Fossett's plane.
posted by mazola at 8:46 PM on September 9, 2007

tss: I found it on Google Earth after downloading the overlay.
I was looking in areas given in the hits thing. I noticed a white spot when shifting to another hit and backtracked it.
I was wondering if it was on the non-overlay image.
posted by Slacktastic at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2007

Ugh. I've been through 195 of them now and what I have discovered (other than 3 or 4 images with some maybe-white-with-right-angles things) is that the Mechanical Turk's interface sucks for this kind of work. I'll wager that throughput could be doubled and abandonment rates significantly reduced with a better designed page. I wonder if Amazon is tracking and A-B testing the Fossett turk hits. They must be.

Slacktastic: not to detract from your eagle-eyed planespotting, but on rotating that view in Google Earth, it looks to me like the plane you found is airborne. With GE's terrain layer enabled, try lowering the pitch on your view and swinging it around such that N is at about 5 o'clock. There doesn't seem to be any damage or trail of destruction on ground. If it is sitting on the surface, then it looks like it was placed there. Of course, the weird thing is that it does appear to be about the right scale relative to the brush. Perhaps it's skimming the treetops.

What do I know from interpreting aerial photography, though? I wasn't even alive during the Cuban missile crisis.
posted by mumkin at 10:22 PM on September 9, 2007

This is a pretty neat idea. I wish that instead of small photos they could assign a flyover swath of google earth to search...

Anyway, did anyone venture into the other "HIT" stuff? Some of the sketchiest, lowest-denominator stuff I've seen. Invitations to plagiarize, one cent payments to make comments on blogs, etc., etc. Astonishingly pathetic.
posted by maxwelton at 12:18 AM on September 10, 2007

Dear item,

Please take some time away from this thread, if not metafilter in general. You're behaving like a child.

The Monkey
posted by The Monkey at 2:42 AM on September 10, 2007

item -

You are an ass for that statement.
posted by tgrundke at 12:31 PM on September 9

"ass" is OK but "fuck" gets you a timeout.
There should be a guidebook for these hard to keep track...
posted by rocket88 at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2007

On the other hand, they just found a lost blonde. In a low-tech way yet.
posted by davy at 10:39 AM on September 10, 2007

This was also tried in the Jim Gray case, where it pretty much failed to find anything, even far too late.

Has this sort of "one zillion amateur eyeballs" search ever accomplished anything?
posted by Western Infidels at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2007

This is #2, so it's not a big data pool.
posted by smackfu at 12:14 PM on September 10, 2007

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