The Thermal video’s UAV camera placement makes sense based on the trajectory of the UAV and the angle of the camera.

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I know there’s been some recent back and forth regarding the drone footage legitimacy. This isn’t about that.

In that post, I saw another issue with the drone footage raised that I’ve seen often. Admittedly been one of the most perplexing pieces of the footage for me as well. u/Kimmyjunguny raised it yesterday in a post and had some feedback, but it still didn’t appear like there was much of a consensus.

I did include a few things in here that may offer awesome discussion if the tagged users want to try to tackle this together. Here’s what I have below:

A few red circles so I think you guys and gals will like this one. Lots of links to detailed posts and content Math problems

The Issue: The drone footage appears to be an underwing mounted camera, but it appears to show the wing and is positioned above the nose based on where it appears to be in this image. This doesn’t make sense.

The Answer: I believe this can be put to rest by calculating the angle of the camera and the UAV’s downward trajectory.

I’ve decided to put this post together to try to get to the bottom of this. I’ve done a little bit of the legwork but to be honest I am out of my depth on the tech and skills it takes to actually answer some of the data points and questions that I think are needed. I’ve written a few questions for the smarter people in here to tackle if you’d like to.

u/CMDANDCTRL had a good write up a week and half ago regarding the predator that may be in use in the alleged Thermal MH370 abduction video. Many other users have agreed that it’s likely the MQ-1C Predator Gray Eagle. Here’s another article published in 2012 about this UAV with images and video.


The Wing

I don’t believe it is the wing, I think it is the cowl/cover of the sensor housing as seen in this pic. The gimbal and sensor are held within this housing. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the camera can point in all directions and eventually reach a “stopping point” before the camera would be pointing at the inside of the housing. However, I believe what some think is the wing, is actually the top of the camera viewport inside the sensor housing. u/andrewlikescoffee expanded on this here and I think he’s correct. For reasons I’ll expand on in the next section, I believe the gimbal is pointed “up” relative to its natural center and this is the edge of the sensor housing that can be seen.

Additional point as to why I don’t think it’s the wing: When you look at this image it does not appear that the wing has much of a slant to it. Whereas the slant in the image looks considerable. This appears to be more likely the edge of the sensor housing as opposed to the wing slant. I think that u/RollingAlpine can help us with this as he did an awesome post on Simulating the MQ-1 Camera Pose the other day.

Alpine, do you think you could do the following for us?

Would it be possible to use the MQ-1C Gray Eagle model? If not, would the wing slant be the same? Place the camera in blender and measure the slant of the wing. It does appear in your comparison that your camera may be too far out on the wing based on my eyes and your thoughts on the FOV. I agree and I really don’t know if this can be sharpened. I imagine changing the model if possible would help, but I don’t know anything about what you put together I just appreciated the work. Compare the slants from Blender to the video

The Nose

I believe the UAV is moving in a downward trajectory. This combined with the “upward” angle of the camera give the perspective that you are placed above or level to the pilot tube. If the UAV was sitting on the ground, this would not be the perspective you would have as the camera is naturally positioned considerably low relative to the pilot tube. So the thinking is correct, but I don’t think it’s considering the steep downward angle of the UAV, forcing the UAV sensor to reach it’s maximum “upward” angle and expose part of the sensor housing.


Figuring out the Math. Maybe?

I may be wrong in some (or alot) of this so feel free to correct or expand as there are probably better ways to answer the questions than the solutions I offered. Use this GIF or this timestamp of the Vimeo video to evaluate this next section:

1) Airliner emerges from nose of drone at the start of the video. Can we determine how far the airliner is from the UAV within a reasonable margin of error?

I’m sure it would take a hell of a lot of math to figure out the relative distance from the UAV to the 777 but it could probably be done if there are known (or determined by experienced image wizards) measurements on the positioning of the gimbal to the nose of the drone. Evaluate the size of the 777 and do whatever wacky relative algebra is needed to figure out scale like a model airplane.

Airliner emerges from the tip of the UAV.

2) Can we measure the distance traveled between the beginning of the video and the moment the UAV crosses under the contrails?

The airliner emerges from just above the nose of the UAV at 1:19 of the Vimeo video. The UAV crosses under the contrails at about 1:27. Somebody with really precise video flux capacitation analysis can figure this exact amount of time but let’s say 8 seconds. According to this article (and a couple others) the max speed is 150 Knots. According to this thing, 150KT max speed over 8 seconds is 0.333 nautical miles, 0.383 miles, or 0.617 kilometers.

UAV crosses under the contrails.

3) Can someone determine the distance between the top of the UAV and the contrails?

Maybe use some of the math wizardry that came from answer 1 to calculate the distance between the top of the UAV and the contrails. You could then factor in the distance from the top of the UAV to the Gimbal to sharpen the answer on perspective for accuracy’s sake.

4) What altitude are the UAV and airliner flying at?

If the other questions can be answers, the angle can be calculated by knowing the distance traveled, the time it took, and the relative starting points of the Drone and the Airliner. By starting points, I mean altitudes. Can the altitude be confirmed by the timing of weird altitude data that’s evident in the Rolls Royce engine pings?

Maybe some of the geniuses that worked on the Satellite stuff can offer some help here. IDK if the altitudes have been identified, I’m sure it’s impossible to be certain. Is there any weather data that could help determine an estimation on cloud height? Maybe we can get close by comparing the height of the satellite and stereoscopic factors in the sat video? I know it’s been discussed it appears to be “synthetic” stereographic, is there still a way to gain any distance information such as distance to clouds or the apex curve of the contrail?

I some of these measurements may help determine the altitude of the airliner. Using the math from the first three questions, you may be able to calculate the estimated altitude of the UAV. This may also help figure out the projected flight path of the UAV and you could lay this over the unwrapped version of the Sat image. You could probably just run the two videos concurrently to try to determine the expected flight path of the UAV but the measurements would help sharpen that up quite a bit I’m sure.

Tagged all in one place for ease of reading but these posts came to mind when I was pondering this question.

u/BigDuckNergyThe case for NROL-22 Being a relay satellite

u/AndrewlikescoffeeImaging info that may be relevant

u/JunktheratOfficially declassified SBIRS HEO Images

u/TachEngyKinda Stereoscopic imaging

u/kcimcComplex Depth of Sat video

u/SulkasammalAirliner Satellite Video: View of the area unwrapped

5) What angle is the UAV pointing downward?

I don’t know. If the questions above can be answered, we should be able to measure the angle the UAV is pointing. Take the UAV’s starting altitude and the estimated altitude of when it crossed under the contrails and speed calculated distance traveled. Make a triangle and that should give you the angle of the UAV.

6) What angle is the Gimbal pointing?

Maybe some of the military hardware sleuths in here can figure out the max angle allowed in the wing mounted camera pod? It looked like the imaging info comment I linked above included info about potential imaging details so maybe that can help us determine what angle is possible or allowed using the wing mounted optics on the UAV.

With some of those questions answered, we could probably determine that the angle is reasonable even though it gives the perception that the camera is higher than the pilot tube.

I don’t know if the video is real. My personal theory is the Sat is real but the thermal is fake. As u/RichiTheMonkey posted, there seems to be something going on that needs to be looked into. Have a good day everyone.

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