The Malaysian government has today publicly published the final ping transmissions between Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and an Inmarsat satellite that it was communicating with before it disappeared—so now anyone can investigate what happened to the aircraft,

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Based on the same data, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has also issued a report explaining that the plane most likely descended to its fate after running out of fuel. That's based on calculations of how long it took the plane to descend and modeling of fuel burn for different flight paths. It's still believed the plane crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, though all searches to date have proved fruitless. The conclusion comes as Australia's naval vessel Ocean Shield abandons its search on Wednesday—and a week before authorities open up the hunt to private contractors.

The data has been publicly released by Malaysia's department of civil aviation following pleas from families of missing passengers who demanded greater transparency in the investigation. Whether it will actually prove useful is yet to be seen— but the move to make the data publicly available is surely to be applauded. [Wall Street Journal, Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation via Verge]

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Image by AP Photo/Rob Griffith