Want to know what the surface of the moon looks like? There’s a map for that. What about Mars’ topography? There’s a map for that too. Want to know about our own planet’s surface? Good luck, because our maps are missing roughly three quarters of the necessary information.
Even in a 21st century world where we can instantly pinpoint and view any given spot on the globe with Google Earth, 95 percent of the 71 percent of Earth covered by ocean remains unexplored. That means 68 percent of our own planet remains a complete unknown.
Thanks to National Geographic Explorer and blockbuster movie director James Cameron’s historic descent to the deepest place on earth this week, discussions of the ocean’s mysteries are resurfacing. On Tuesday, Cameron descended 6.8 miles beneath the Pacific’s surface into Marianas Trench via his custom designed DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, and experienced a world unlike any seen before.
While this expedition received worldwide attention, influenced at least partially by Cameron’s Hollywood success with films such as Avatar and Titanic, ocean exploration remains an understudied area. Thanks to (not to oversimplify) water coverage, the Earth’s greatest mountain ranges, deepest valleys and tens of thousands of active volcanoes remain unvisited and unexplored.