By Jennie WaltersPosted 06.09.2011 at 2:30 pm 4 Comments
Google Earth broke new ground (new water?) when they took the world of virtual-earth-exploring into the oceans. Of course, the oceans are kind of big. They fill up nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface area, and most of that area hasn't been mapped out. But now you can tour roughly half of the known area without pulling on any SCUBA gear, thanks to Google's new underwater terrain explorer.
While some scientists resort to undersea drilling to find undiscovered forms of life, a new group of researchers has decided that piloting a robotic submarine into a submerged volcano was the way to go. By exploring the deepest, hottest, undersea volcano ever probed, the researchers hope to find clues to both the beginnings of life on Earth, and the possible forms of life on other planets.
More people have been to the Moon than to the deepest parts of the ocean, and scientists have more detailed maps of the surface of Mars than they do of much of the ocean floor. That glaring lack of knowledge about our own planet comes in part from the difficulty of communicating with robots and submarines traveling beneath the waves.