The ocean covers 70% of our planet. The deep-sea floor is a realm that is largely unexplored, but cutting-edge technology is enabling a new generation of aquanauts to go deeper than ever before.
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Beneath the waves is a mysterious world that takes up to 95% of Earth's living space. Only three people have ever reached the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean. The deep is a world without sunlight, of freezing temperatures, and immense pressure. It's remained largely unexplored until now.
Cutting-edge technology is enabling a new generation of aquanauts to explore deeper than ever before. They are opening up a whole new world of potential benefits to humanity. The risks are great, but the rewards could be greater. From a vast wealth of resources to clues about the origins of life, the race is on to the final frontier
The Okeanos Explorer, the American government state-of-the-art vessel, designed for every type of deep ocean exploration from discovering new species to investigating shipwrecks. On board, engineers and scientists come together to answer questions about the origins of life and human history.
Today the Okeanos is on a mission to investigate the wreck of a World War one submarine. Engineer Bobby Moore is part of a team who has developed the technology for this type of mission.
The “deep discover”, a remote operating vehicle is equipped with 20 powerful LED lights and designed to withstand the huge pressure four miles down. Equivalent to 50 jumbo jets stacked on top of a person
While the crew of the Okeanos send robots to investigate the deep, some of their fellow scientists prefer a more hands-on approach. Doctor Greg stone is a world leading marine biologist with over 8,000 hours under the sea. He has been exploring the abyss in person for 30 years.
The technology opening up the deep is also opening up opportunity. Not just to witness the diversity of life but to glimpse vast amounts of rare mineral resources. Some of the world's most valuable metals can be found deep under the waves. A discovery that has begun to pique the interest of the global mining industry.
The boldest of mining companies are heading to the deep drawn by the allure of a new Gold Rush. But to exploit it they're also beating a path to another strange new world. In an industrial estate in the north of England, SMD is one of the world's leading manufacturers of remote underwater equipment. The industrial technology the company has developed has made mining possible several kilometers beneath the ocean surface.
With an estimated 150 trillion dollars’ worth of gold alone, deep-sea mining has the potential to transform the global economy.
With so much still to discover, mining in the deep ocean could have unknowable impact. It's not just life today that may need protecting; reaching the deep ocean might just allow researchers to answer some truly fundamental questions. Hydrothermal vents, hot springs on the ocean floor, are cracks in the Earth's crust. Some claim they could help scientists glimpse the origins of life itself.
We might still be years away from unlocking the mysteries of the deep. Even with the latest technology, this kind of exploration is always challenging. As the crew of the Okeanos comes to terms with a scale of the challenge and the opportunity that lies beneath, what they and others discover could transform humanity's understanding of how to protect the ocean.
It's the most hostile environment on earth, but the keys to our future may lie in the deep.
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