Time Life Pictures/Mansell/Time Life Pictures/Getty
12/20/2010 AT 10:05 AM EST
Three bone fragments found on a deserted South Pacific island are being tested to see if they are Amelia Earhart's – some 73 years after the famed aviator went missing while trying to circumnavigate the globe in her small aircraft.
University of Oklahoma scientists hope to extract DNA from three tiny bone chips found on Nikumaroro Island, several thousand miles south of Hawaii, and compare it to samples donated by an anonymous member of Earhart's family. The testing could take months to complete, ABC News
Researchers have traveled 10 times to Nikumaroro since 1989 in an effort to determine what happened to Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, on their 1937 expedition – one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.
Among the bone fragments being tested
In 2007, they discovered personal items on Nikumaroro that may have belonged to Earhart, as well as the remains of a campsite, which suggests Earhart and Noonan could have survived a landing on the island and lived there briefly.