Malaysia releases satellite data on missing MH370 jet

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Malaysia releases satellite data on missing MH370 jet
A relative of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells at a security personnel while she attends a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells at a security personnel (R) while she attends a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical personnel assist a person while relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she participates in a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Medical personnel assist a person while relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest with plarcards outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A grieving relative (C) of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is comforted by others as they protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest with a plarcard (C) reading 'we want the truth' outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
People assist a relative (C) who fainted during a protest, held by the relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard Flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO CHINA OUT (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A grieving Chinese relative of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 yells to journalists as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 march to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Riot police block grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 as they protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - MARCH 25: Chinese relatives of the passenger from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 clash with Chinese police outside the Malaysian Embassy on March 25, 2014 in Beijing, China. Hundreds of protesters, including many relatives of missing flight MH370 passengers, marched on the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing demanding answers from Malaysian authorities about the fate of the flight. The Prime Minister of Malaysia announced yesterday that new data showed the flight had crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are removed by bus after their protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 walk past a paramilitary police barricade as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Grieving Chinese relatives of passengers on missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 try to remove a police barricade blocking journalists as they gather to protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014. Scores of angry relatives of the Chinese passengers aboard flight MH370 set out on a protest march to the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25 to demand more answers about the crashed plane's fate. AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (L) of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries after hearing the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean at a hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 waves her fist as she cries after hearing the news that the plane plunged into the Indian Ocean at a hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is taken away by medical personnel after being told the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative (C) of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is taken away by medical personnel after being told the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as he walks out of a hotel hall at after hearing the news that the plane plunged into Indian Ocean in Beijing on March 24, 2014. The missing Malaysia Airlines jet came down in the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Najib Razak said March 24, as the airline reportedly told relatives it had been lost and that none on board survived. AFP PHOTO / GOH CHAI HIN (Photo credit should read GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 leave after being told that the missing airliner had crashed in the Indian Ocean at the Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing on March 24, 2014. Tears and cries of inconsolable pain and loss echoed from a Beijing hotel ballroom as the relatives of MH370 passengers learned the news: their loved ones were dead. Some clung on to other family members for crumbs of comfort as they left the room where they were told the Malaysia Airlines flight had ended, incontestably, in the remote southern Indian Ocean. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative of victims from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane cries while awaiting updates at a hotel in Putrajaya on March 11, 2014. Malaysia has expanded its search area for a missing jet after three days of scouring the sea failed to bring forth any confirmed sightings of wreckage, an official said. He added that besides searching in waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, authorities were also searching on land in Malaysia and off western Malaysia. AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN (Photo credit should read MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman (R) breaks down while leaving the reception centre for families and friends after an airliner went missing at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on March 8, 2014. Malaysia and Vietnam on March 8 led a search for a Malaysia Airlines jet that has gone missing over Southeast Asia, as fears mounted over the fate of the 239 people aboard. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
A crying woman is escorted to a bus for relatives at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early on March 8, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A possible relative cries at the Beijing Airport after news of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 plane in Beijing on March 8, 2014. Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early on March 8, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A crying woman, one of the relatives of Chinese passengers aboard missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, is assisted by volunteers as she leaves a hotel ballroom where families were briefed on rescue and searching efforts in Beijing, China, Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
A woman cries as she walks out of the reception center and holding area for family and friend of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 8, 2014. Search teams across Southeast Asia scrambled on Saturday to find a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board that disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam early that morning. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A Chinese relative of passengers aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines plane cries as she holds a banner in front of journalists reading 'We are against the Malaysian government for hiding the truth and delaying the rescue. Release our families unconditionally!" at a hotel in Sepang, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Malaysian authorities examined new radar data from Thailand that could potentially give clues on how to retrace the course of the Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Twenty-six countries are looking for the aircraft as relatives anxiously await news. (AP Photo) MALAYSIA OUT
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By CHRIS BRUMMITT and EILEEN NG

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- Close to three months after the Malaysian jetliner disappeared, the government on Tuesday released reams of raw satellite data it used to determine that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, a step long demanded by the families of some of the passengers on board.

But while the 45 pages of information may help satisfy a desire for more transparency in a much criticized investigation, experts say it's unlikely to solve the mystery of Flight 370 - or give much comfort to relatives stuck between grieving and the faintest hope, no matter how unlikely, their loved ones might still be alive.

"It's a whole lot of stuff that is not very important to know," said Michael Exner, a satellite engineer who has been independently researching the calculations. "There are probably two or three pages of important stuff, the rest is just noise. It doesn't add any value to our understanding."

He and others said the needed assumptions, algorithms and metadata to validate the investigators' conclusion were not there.

The release of the information came as the underwater hunt for the jet is poised to pause until later in the summer while new, powerful sonar equipment is obtained, a sign of just how difficult it will be to locate the jet and finally get some answers on how it went missing with 239 people on board.

Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Boeing 777 soon after it took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 on a night flight to Beijing over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

An international investigation team led by Malaysia has concluded that the jet flew south after it was last spotted on Malaysian military radar to the west of peninsular Malaysia and ended up in the southern Indian Ocean off western Australia. The conclusion is based on complex calculations derived largely from brief hourly transmissions or "handshakes" between the plane and a communications satellite operated by Britain's Inmarsat company.

Investigators say they believe the plane was deliberately diverted from its flight path, but without finding the plane or its flight data recorders they have been unable to say with any certainty what happened on board. Theories range from mechanical failure to hijacking or pilot murder-suicide.

The families - many of whom have been highly critical of the Malaysian government and, in the absence of any wreckage, have been unwilling to accept that their loved ones were dead - had been asking for the raw satellite data for many weeks so it could be examined by independent experts. Malaysia initially balked at doing so, but then reconsidered.

In a posting on its Facebook page, a group representing some of the families said: "Finally, after almost three months, the Inmarsat raw data is released to the public. Hope this is the original raw data and can be used to potentially `think out of the box' to get an alternative positive outcome."

Steve Wang, whose mother was on the plane, said he was disappointed that the release did not contain an account of exactly what investigators did to conclude the plane had taken the southern route.

"We are not experts and we cannot analyze the raw data, but we need to see the deduction process and judge by ourselves if every step was solid," he said. "We still need to know where the plane is and what is the truth. We know the likelihood that our beloved ones have survived is slim, but it is not zero."

Sarah Bajc, whose husband was on the flight, has been at the forefront of a campaign to press the government for more transparency.

She said that "a half dozen very qualified people were looking" at the information and she hoped to have their conclusions soon.

The investigators were forced to rely on the Inmarsat data because the plane's other communication and navigation systems were disabled. They determined the plane's direction by measuring the frequency of the signals sent to the satellite. By considering aircraft performance, the satellite's location and other known factors such as the amount of fuel on board, they determined the plane's final location was to the south of the satellite.

In early April, search crews picked up a series of underwater signals in the area the satellite data indicated was the likely crash site. The signals appeared to be consistent with the "pings" from aircraft black boxes, which contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings. The head of the search operation, Angus Houston, said the signals were "a most promising lead" and hopes were initially high for a breakthrough, but an intensive search by an unmanned submarine found nothing.

In an interview with CNN earlier this week, Inmarsat chief engineer Mark Dickinson said the planned release of the satellite data would not be enough for independent researchers to replicate the calculations. Some aviation experts have speculated that governments might not want to release all the data, or other needed information on the satellite system, because of commercial or national security reasons.

But Dickinson said he was highly confident of the data.

"This data has been checked, not just by Inmarsat but by many parties, who have done the same work, with the same numbers, to make sure we all got it right, checked it with other flights in the air at the same, checked it against previous flights in this aircraft," he said. "At the moment there is no reason to doubt what the data says."

Congregating in Internet chat rooms and blogs, many scientists, physicists and astronomers have been trying to replicate the math used to determine the southern route, either as an intellectual exercise or out of a belief they are helping the relatives or contributing to transparency in the investigation.

Duncan Steel, a British scientist and astronomer, said some of the data "may" explain the belief that the aircraft went south rather than north, but that a further confirmation would take a day or so. But he too was disappointed. "One can see no conceivable reason that the information could not have been released nine or 10 weeks ago. Even now, there are many, many lines of irrelevant information in those 47 pages," he said in an email.

The final "handshake" message sent to the satellite didn't coincide with the previous, hourly pings.

In a report on its website titled "Considerations on defining the search area," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the last message was a "logon request from the aircraft that was consistent with satellite communication equipment on the aircraft powering up following a power interruption."

It said the interruption may have been caused by fuel exhaustion, a potentially significant finding.

Given that investigators believe the plane was deliberately diverted, the role of the pilots has come under scrutiny. Much of the speculation has centered on whether the aircraft could have suffered a mechanical failure in which the pilots struggled to regain control before all on board were somehow incapacitated, or whether it was crashed deliberately.

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Brummitt contributed from Hanoi, Vietnam. Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney and Didi Trang in Beijing contributed to this report.

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