The day after the aircraft disappeared, the very high resolution Pléaides 1A and 1B satellites, the high resolution SPOT 5 and 6 satellites and the synthetic aperture radar satellites TerraSAR-X have been programmed to take images of the search zone. All the data collected are analysed by Airbus Defence and Space maritime experts and provided to the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency (MRSA). Moreover, Pléiades images are also transferred, via CNES, and TerraSAR-X images via DLR, to the Chinese Meteorological Administration who has request the Disaster Charter activation on the 11th of March.
Since Sunday 9th of March, the experts of Airbus Defence and Space have been analyzing the images taken by the optical and radar satellites. The radar satellites like TerraSAR-X are able to identify layers of hydrocarbon as well as any oil slick or metallic objects floating on the sea. The resolution of the optical satellites Pléiades 1A & 1B (50 cm after resampling) and SPOT 5 and 6 allow for identification and characterization of small objects over large surfaces.