Oceans

Why Have We Explored More of Outer Space Than the Ocean?

November 10, 2017
explored more of space than the ocean

You’d think we know more about the planet we live on than the vast openness of outer space, right? It makes sense, after all, we spend every waking hour on this Earth. Surely, we can’t have explored more of space than the ocean, right?

You might be surprised to find out that we can explain a whole lot more about space — at least the areas we know and can explore — than the ocean. How’s that for some food for thought?

Wait, what? We know more about space than the ocean?

Consider the Evidence

The ocean makes up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, and yet a ridiculous 95 percent is completely unexplored by humans. When you put it that way, it seems much more plausible that unknown creatures — such as the Loch Ness monster — exist out there.

Since 1969, a total of 12 people have made the trip to the moon. Let’s compare that to the Marianas Trench — one of the deepest trenches in the ocean — which only a total of three people have explored. One of those three was filmmaker James Cameron who spent $10 million of his own money to finance the trip.

Of course, one could argue that the entire ocean floor has been mapped by imaging equipment. Technically, we know everything about the bottom of the sea floor, right? Except, the mapping hardware was only used at a resolution of up to five kilometers, or three miles. What does that mean? Well, anything larger than five kilometers has not been documented or mapped.

This means there’s still a lot— especially of smaller size — that we have yet to explore and uncover. Furthermore, no one has actually scoured every inch of the ocean floor. This is just imaging hardware and software we’re talking about here, so it’s entirely possible something was missed. You could make the same comparison for outer space, as we’ve only ever explored the local solar system. Sure, the Hubble telescope and similar equipment can give us a glimpse of faraway locations, but that’s all it is a quick glimpse. We don’t actually know what’s out there, just like we don’t know everything that’s beneath the ocean’s surface.

It does beg the question: Why do we know more about space, an alien plane than we do about our planet, or more specifically, the vast ocean that inhabits the Earth with us?

Why Don’t We Explore the Ocean?

For starters, there’s a lot of it to cover, and even though we’ve had the time and likely resources to do so, it would be incredibly expensive. Only about 0.05 percent of the ocean has been mapped with the highest resolution of sonar imaging. Why don’t we just do the rest?

Because it’s not that simple. Even more difficult to understand is the fact that we can’t get down there to explore with our eyes. In some places, the pressure of the ocean and gravity equals that of 50 jumbo jets resting right on top of you. And that’s before you even consider the fact that at great depths there is absolutely no visibility. It’s not just a matter of presenting a light source; it’s also about how far said light can stretch, which at the bottom of the ocean is not very far.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not happening. Already scientists and researchers are planning to map and explore the far reaches of the ocean floor. Thanks to modern technology the process can be much more efficient and accurate. We may even be able to locate valuable resources that can be retrieved for use back on the surface, such as copper, nickel, and cobalt.

It will, however, take quite a bit of time, dedication, and resources including money. More importantly, it will take a lot of scientists and researchers working together to achieve one common goal, but it may be possible that one day we will no longer have explored more of space than of the ocean.

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