The unmanned underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 was deployed for its second mission to scour the seafloor last night after data analysis from its first mission gave no leads in finding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Bluefin-21 was first deployed on Monday in a new phase of the hunt for MH370 as searchers feared that the batteries on the plane’s black boxes had died, making it impossible to pick up signals with listening devices. The robot had automatically aborted its mission six hours in, when it breached its maximum operating depth, according to the US Navy.
“The autonomous underwater vehicle was again deployed last night (Tuesday) from ADV (Australian Defence Vessel) Ocean Shield,” Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Center said.
“The data from Bluefin-21’s first mission has been downloaded and analysed. No objects of interest were found.”
The autonomous sub is meant to conduct a sonar survey of the ocean floor for 16 hours at a time, and the US Navy estimated that it would take from six weeks to two months to scan the entire search zone.
Angus Houston, chief of the joint search coordination, said that the search would be a “slow and painstaking process”, although teams are hoping that new sightings of an oil slick in the water can help narrow the search area. Houston said it will take several days before the samples of oil can be fully analyzed.