Researchers at Penn State University’s Radiation Science and Engineering Centre claim they used advanced imaging techniques to re-analyse a metal panel, found on the island of Nikumaroro in 1991, that is believed to have come from Earhart’s aircraft.
Their scans revealed hidden letters and numbers on the aluminium panel that could help to identify it – and confirm whether or not it did come from the missing plane.
They believe that if this is proven correct, this discovery could add weight to the popular theory that Earhart made it to Nikumaroro after she lost contact as she approached Howland Island.
Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean mid-1937 during her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the globe.
In 1991, an aluminium panel was found washed up on nearby Nikumaroro island. Scientists at the Penn State University, after analysing it, revealed the letters and numbers “D24”, “XRO” and either “335” or “385” etched on the aluminium panel.
One theory is that the aluminium panel found on Nikumaroro island in the western Pacific in 1991 is actually the metal patch that was added to the aircraft when repairs were made during Earhart’s ill-fated flight attempt.
The hidden text on the panel, experts believe, could be related to a manufacturing code.
Now, forensic analysts are working to establish if they can trace the origins of the code to definitively establish whether the metal panel did or did not belong to Earhart’s plane.
“We found what looks like stamped or painted marks that could be from the original manufacturer,” Kenan Unlu, director of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center at Penn State told Daily Mail.
“D24 and 335, or maybe 385. We don’t know what they mean, but they are the first new information from this panel that has been examined by various experts with different scientific techniques for over 30 years,” he added.