Newly reported evidence adds support to the claim that famed aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, spent the last days of their lives on Nikumaroro Island in the southwest Pacific Ocean, seen here from more than 400 miles up.
The Ikonos satellite image was taken almost a decade ago, at the request of a group that has long been looking for traces of the missing pair. Earhart and Noonan disappeared in 1937 during their attempt to make a round-the-world flight — and were never found. Their story has inspired a myriad of books and movies, including the recent film "Amelia."
Since the 1980s, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, has been engaged in a search effort called The Earhart Project. TIGHAR focused on Nikumaroro Island and commissioned the satellite photo in 2001. The uninhabited coral atoll, part of the Pacific island republic of Kiribati, is about 300 miles southeast of Howland Island, the place Earhart was trying to get to when she and Noonan disappeared.
Now TIGHAR says it has recovered bone fragments from a remote area of Nikumaroro that may have come from a human. DNA tests to be conducted in Oklahoma could confirm whether the bones were indeed of human origin or instead came from a sea turtle. There's even a chance the bones could be genetically linked to Earhart. Other artifacts found on the island — including bits of rouge, a broken mirror from a woman's compact and bottles with melted bottoms — support the view that Earhart and Noonan could have lived there for a while as castaways.
Ikonos' beautiful view of Nikumaroro Island is today's offering from the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which highlights an image of Earth from space every day until Christmas. For still more stunning space imagery, click on the links below:
- The Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar so far
- Door 1 for Dec. 1: Shuttle in spotlight
- Door 2 for Dec. 2: 'Alien' lake seen from space
- Door 3 for Dec. 3: Egypt's river of light
- Door 4 for Dec. 4: Tallest building reaches for the sky
- Door 5 for Dec. 5: Russia's dazzling delta
- Door 6 for Dec. 6: Space skipper vs. the world
- Door 7 for Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor from the heavens
- Door 8 for Dec. 8: Listening for E.T.
- Door 9 for Dec. 9: Blast from the past
- Door 10 for Dec. 10: Volcano caught in the act
- Door 11 for Dec. 11: Chronicling climate change
- Door 12 for Dec. 12: Happy St. Lucy's Day
- Door 13 for Dec. 13: Viva Las Vegas
- Door 14 for Dec. 14: Don't wake the volcanoes
- Door 15 for Dec. 15: Stairways to heaven
- Door 16 for Dec. 16: White Christmas in the Midwest
- Door 17 for Dec. 17: Tracks in the sky
- The Big Picture at Boston.com: Hubble Advent calendar
- Planetary Society: Solar system Advent calendar
- Zooniverse Advent calendar
Update for 1:30 p.m. ET Dec. 19: NBC's Janet Shamlian reports on the new clues in the Amelia Earhart mystery in this video clip from "NBC Nightly News."
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