While touting space as the next great frontier, we tend to forget that our oceans encompass domains that might as well exist on other planets. Like outer space, the deep sea isn't an easy place to access, but explorers reared on Jules Verne and tales of the giant squid couldn't resist the challenge of mapping Earth's most alien habitat. To that end, innovators like aqua-lung inventor Jacques Cousteau, Swiss physicist Auguste Piccard, and aviation pioneer Edwin Link built submersibles fit for the long and treacherous task. As Piccard once said, "Exploration is the sport of the scientist."
Based at a new multi-million-dollar energy research station, a Chinese deep-sea sub will search for new energy sources and rare-earth metals on the ocean floor, according to Chinese state-run media.
Chinese officials announced Thursday that the new Jiaolong sub made 17 dives in the South China Sea this summer, the deepest to 12,332 feet (3,759 meters). The feat makes China the fifth country to dive past the 3,500 meter mark.
Finding the unexpected, 4,000 meters under the sea
By Paul GleasonPosted 02.23.2009 at 10:16 am 12 Comments
Until last December, no one had ever seen the bottom of the Tasman Fracture, a trench that drops more than four kilometers below the surface of the ocean. A group of Australian and American researchers recently spent a month hundreds of kilometers southwest of the Tasmanian coast, exploring the fracture's depths. Jess Adkins, a professor at Caltech and one of the project's lead scientists, remembers sitting in his control room and watching the underwater life on his monitors with a sense of awe.