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Crowdsourcing adds millions of eyes to search for missing Malaysian Airlines jet

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As the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet continues, crowdsourced eyes have been added to the mix. Tomnod.com, which is a crowdsourcing website run by DigitalGlobe (DGI), is askings its over two million users to help scan through satellite images for clues to flight MH370, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The Tomnod "challenge" is here, and first explains what the site is about with the following message:

What is Tomnod?

On Tomnod, thousands of volunteers (like you!) use satellite images to explore the Earth and solve real-world problems.

Every day, DigitalGlobe satellites see amazing images of our changing planet. The Tomnod team searches for all the important locations in every new image. That's where you come in.

Ready for your first campaign?

Join the Tomnod team! Your task is to explore the satellite images and tag any important locations you find.

About 645,000 "features" have been flagged, DigitalGlobe said in a Wednesday blog post. This is Tomnod’s largest-ever campaign, and the Longmont, Colo.-based company has images covering 24,000 square kilometers (9,300 square miles) for searchers to scan through.

Traffic surges have, at times, knocked the site offline. We, ourselves, saw a slight glitch for a few minutes on Friday morning (Pacific time), when we could not access the site.

Shay Har-Noy, director of product development at DigitalGlobe, said:

We have millions of people on our website, looking pixel by pixel, for anything out of place. One hundred and 30 million times, people have applied their brains and their eyes to try and solve this problem.

John McGraw, founder of John McGraw Aerospace Consulting, commented on the site's efforts:

Having that many people involved looking at the imagery, with all the imagery available, is a force multiplier. None of the government agencies would be able to bring that many people to bear.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, has been missing for nearly a week, with no communication or sighting since the morning of March 8 after the Boeing 777-200 took off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for for Beijing.

As of Friday morning, there had been no sightings of debris. Theories have ranged from terrorism to a catastrophic failure to UFOs.

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