Steve Fossett ©2007 NPR.com
by Jeff Greene /
By now you have heard of the mysterious disappearance of famed adventurer Steve Fossett. On September 3rd, Fossett took off from a private airstrip near Reno to scout dry lake beds for an upcoming world land speed record attempt. He has not been seen or heard from since. Searchers have been unsuccessful combing the desert around Reno by both land and air for the past nine days trying to locate his plane. Fossett is an experienced pilot and outdoorsman, who is well-equipped with the latest beacons and tracking equipment, but there has been no sign, sound, or trace of his location.
Want to help the search teams? This is where you can join the rescue effort online. Thanks to Amazon, GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, and our worthy competitors over at Google (hey, this no time for commercial partisanship), you can now help analyze the very latest satellite imagery of the Nevada desert by looking for signs of Fossett's plane, an SOS, or perhaps even Steve himself waving at the satellite...
To get started go to the Amazon MechanicalTurk site.
You can use your existing Amazon ID, or take a minute and register, to use the Amazon MechanicalTurk site. In the search boxes near the top of the page, Search for HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) containing Steve Fossett. Ignore the Pay and Qualification boxes. Click GO
You'll get this screen...
The “Help Find Steve Fossett” will appear in the list.
Click on the Work on HITs button and follow the log-in instructions.
Once verified, You will see two images, the photo on the LEFT is the latest satellite image from the search area. It measures roughly 300 x 300 feet. That is only slightly larger than a football field. The image on the RIGHT is a sample image containing a plane that is the same size as Steve's. The task at hand is to review the LEFT image for any items of interest. Below the images are a "Yes,...." and "No,..." button that you need to check. After that you click on "Submit the HIT" and move on to the next image.
Review the image on the LEFT for "items of interest". The image on the RIGHT is a sample for reference.
Viewing in Google Earth
If you wish to view images in additional detail, you can pull them up in Google Earth. To do that you must:
• Download and Install Google Earth.
• Open the following KML file: http://s3.amazonaws.com/fossett/geoeye-color.kml
• Cut and paste the co-ordinates found next to the image tile below into the "Fly To" box in the top left corner of Google Earth.
• For the best experience, you will likely want to turn OFF terrain by unchecking the "Terrain" box under Layers in the lower left corner of Google Earth.
Now get to work... Take a few minutes and join the effort by examining these images from space. And let's all hope that no harm has come to Steve Fossett, a true pioneer, an intrepid adventurer, and a man who tests the very limits of human achievement. Hopefully, he's holed up in some deserted mining town swilling a beer waiting to be found... We're on our way, man...