Tech companies partner with computer users to search for missing pilot

September 12 '07: PC World reported that several Internet tech firms have partnered with computer users to search for the missing adventurer Steve Fossett, who disappeared last week when scouting speed trial locations in the Nevadan desert last week. The companies cooperating to look for Fossett are Google Earth,'s Mechanical Turk and GeoEye.

According to PC world, Fossett's plane cannot be located and so to help search teams, the companies have each provided a unique service. "New satellite imagery has been taken by GeoEye, a company that owns and operates three imaging satellites, and Amazon's Mechanical Turk Web service has been used to [sic]produced a [w]eb site so users can search for his plane using this satellite imagery."

"The Mechanical Turk is a [w]eb Service that integrates information gathered by humans performing a certain task," which could be very hard for a computer - like finding a small plane in rugged and harsh terrain in a picture.

In his post on his blog Google Earth's Frank Taylor said, "The area of Nevada where he went missing is very rugged terrain, and so far the search and rescue aircraft have not been able to locate the missing plane. ... Amazon has produced a Help Find Steve Fossett web site which automatically provides with an image to look at in the search area of new satellite imagery."

Using this approach, Taylor said thousands of eyes can scan images which would require computers a lot more time. The same technique was tried when Microsoft scientist Jim Gray went missing off the coast of California, however satellite imaging was not as available for the area, and Gray was never found again.