April 11, 2014 2:06 PM EDT

As search and rescue crews race against time to locate the flight-data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, what might we learn from these “black boxes,” which contain hundreds of data points about the plane’s location, movements, speed, altitude and mechanical integrity?

The biggest challenge remains finding the devices in the deep waters where it is believed they lie. If recovered, investigators will sift the data in hopes of finding answers to the flight’s mysterious disappearance more than a month ago.

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