It would have been so perfect to break the news of a solid discovery about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart today, on what would be her 115th birthday, but unfortunately the latest mission to her presumed crash site turned up only more frustration. That means Google's Earhart Doodle (left), which links automatically to a search for her name, turns up headlines announcing that (in this case, per The Christian Science Monitor), "The Mystery Continues." Equipment failure and difficult conditions stymied the mission by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery to the South Pacific island of Nikumaroro, where the latest evidence suggests Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan crashed and then survived for a time. Explorers searching for wreckage got lots of video and sonar data that they now get to analyze, but no artifacts.
The search team wanted pictures or physical evidence from Earhart's Lockheed Electra, the landing gear of which a 1937 photo (that spec just in front of the beach, to the left in the photo above) appears to show off the coast of Nikumaroro. That photo inspired U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to express the department's support for the TIGHAR mission in March, and a jar of Dr. Berry's Freckle Ointment found on the island in May (Earhart was notoriously self-conscious about her freckles) got the team's hopes up. But on the mission to find the plane's wreckage, their remote controlled submarine "wedged itself into a narrow cave, a day after squashing its nose cone against the ocean floor. It needed to be rescued," reports The Associated Press's Oskar Garcia, and all told the delays cut their search time in half, from 10 days to five. TIGHAR president Pat Thrasher poured cold water on the notion that they could suddenly find that piece of "smoking gun" evidence. "It's not like an Indiana Jones flick where you go through a door and there it is. It's not like that — it's never like that," he told Garcia. But it would be so cool if it was.