TODAY   |  April 17, 2014

First ocean floor scan for missing plane complete

After two aborted missions, the first 16-hour scan of a small section of the Southern Indian Ocean has been completed by a robotic submarine in the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. NBC’s Katy Tur reports.

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>>> the search for malaysia air flight 370 today, a dozen planes and ships are being used to scan the indian ocean while the robotic ship does its work underwater. katy tur is there. katy , hello.

>> hey there, carson. a little breaking news to reporter. oil shield that they detected a few days ago it has been tested and found to not be part of mh-370. the associated press is reporting they may stop the visual search for the water as early as tomorrow. bluefin 21 was finally able to make its first successful pass along the ocean floor .

>> reporter: three miles below the sur face, bluefin 21 successfully finished its mission making a 3d map of the small area of the indian ocean seabed. this is the first 16-hour scan it was able to complete. so far, the robotic submarine has mapped 35 square miles .

>> the visuals that we managed to get from the bluefin 21 were very clear. not in finding what we were looking for, but what the seabed looks like.

>> reporter: a slow start to what experts say will be a long process. so this really say technological feat?

>> it's a litttechnique until feat. and a challenge.

>> reporter: he's an oceanographer at the university of australia. he says the most challenge sergeant sheer depth.

>> the pressure is intense. it's 450 times of what we experience at the surface. so there are very few vehicles in the world which can actually go down to that depth. with the bluefin, it's at its limit of its capacity to be ever to go down to map.

>> reporter: the arena 6000 is one of them. it found air flight 447's missing black box beneath the surface. malaysia airlines 370 is believed to be a depth of 15,000 feet. meaning if they find something, recovering the black boxes , let alone wreckage, will be a massive undertaking.

>> they're not going to be able to bring every single piece of the plane up.

>> and, of course, they haven't found anything yet. but search leaders today announced just a few moments ago that they were able to greatly reduce the search zone. leaving many to believe, some to believe, that it might not take as long as anticipated. carson.

>> all right, katy . thanks for that. we see you have an arm sling on. we understand you had a jogging accident yesterday. wishing you a speedy recovery.

>> not good at exercising apparently.

>> all right. we don't have a delay or she's pleading the fifth.

>> katy tur working hard for