Whether it be the far reaches of the starry galaxy or the inky blue of the ocean abyss for centuries the neighboring unknown has sparked fascination within every generation. Maybe it is because our bordering environments seem so close, yet so foreign.
Space and sea literally touch our world, yet we cannot survive within them. It is our desire to explore places so different from our own that it has driven the human population to push technology to its limits. There is a shroud of mystery surrounding both the oceans vast depths and the possibilities of deep space. Billions have been invested into expanding our knowledge and understanding of our unfamiliar neighbors, allowing us to fly a little farther and swim a little deeper.
It is said that we know more about the surface of the moon then we do about our own ocean. But how could this be? We have only visited the moon a handful of times while modern humans have depended on the ocean for the last 200,000 years.
Well, the moon resides on average 238,857 miles away from earth, and is locked in an endless orbit. Surface temperatures are extreme (-233 Celsius at night, and 123 Celsius during the day) resulting in a barren habitat seemingly uniform and void of life. The moon simply lacks the biological diversity that blankets the earth.
The ocean, on the other hand, encompasses some 139.4 million square miles, is almost 7 miles deep, with pressures reaching to 15,750 psi (over one thousand times the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level). It is one of the planets most diverse biomes containing an array of inhabitants. Some 250,000 (2010 Marine Census) known organisms call the sea home and according to most scientists it’s still teeming with undiscovered species.
Anyone can explore the deep blue rather easily (well at least for the first 130 feet). A simple SCUBA diving certification will allow you to swim with the dolphins, sea turtles, and whales. Divers don a wetsuit, fins, and snorkel; they strap on a tank full of compressed mixed gasses and slowly descend into a fish eye view of the world.
Deep ocean exploration takes a little more advanced equipment. No more than an astronaut could survive the zero gravity and oxygen lacking environment of space without a special space suit could a human survive the crushing pressure of the lightless deep.
Therefore, scientific researchers often employ the help of remote and manned mini-submarines such as Alvin (DSV-2) for those hard to reach places. Alvin carries 3 people, has explored depths op to 14,800 feet, and is well known for investigating the infamous wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1986.
Want to learn more about breathing underwater?
Tune in soon to discover more about the world of SCUBA diving!