Why Has NASA Stopped Exploring The Oceans? by@slogging

Why Has NASA Stopped Exploring The Oceans?

Recently, there's been a claim online stating the initial role of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in ocean exploration. In order to assert the truth behind this rumor, this thread reviews the timeline of ocean exploration, NASA's mission, and the association between these two elements.
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The oceans cover approximately 70% of Earth's surface and play a crucial part in sustaining life on our planet. However, our understanding of the ocean remains limited despite its significant role.

Recently, there's been a claim online stating the initial role of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in ocean exploration. In order to assert the truth behind this rumor, this thread reviews the timeline of ocean exploration, NASA's mission, and the association between these two elements.

This Slogging thread by Mónica Freitas occurred in slogging's official #space channel, and has been edited for readability.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:15 PM

Why has NASA stopped exploring the oceans?

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:15 PM

The oceans cover approximately 70% of Earth's surface and play a crucial part in sustaining life on our planet, from air and food supply to weather and climate patterns. Yet, despite its colossal function, our understanding of the ocean remains limited.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

Ocean exploration is essential to effective management, conservation, regulation and usage of its resources sustainably, which are vital to our lives and economy. In addition, ocean exploration can lead us to a whole new world of opportunities and scientific developments from medical therapies and vaccines, food, energy, and technology. Moreover, this study fosters a better understanding of earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural phenomenons, helping us develop a better way to cope with them once they surface.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

Ocean exploration has been around since 5000 BC when we first began to dive for food and build the first sailing vessels. As ship construction techniques advanced, we ventured farther out to sea, explored new lands, and moved to diving technology, which resulted in the first submarines. As we mapped the ocean floor, we finally realized the complexity of this water mass. Below, find a brief timeline of ocean exploration:

5000 BC - 1 BC: Ocean exploration begins with the first ocean diving and sailing vessels. In the following years, we get the first diving bells and coastal maps.
 
1 AD - 1600: As sailing vessels become more advanced, explorers venture farther from shore, discovering new lands and traveling around the world. Diving technology continues to advance during this time.
 
1601 - 1800: During the 1600s and 1700s, deep-diving becomes possible with the development of diving suits and helmets. The first submarine was invented.
 
1801 - 1900: Technological advances in the 1800s enabled the development of more advanced diving equipment, including the first scuba. Expeditions begin to discover the existence of deep-sea life.
1901 - 1950: The 1900s saw the first maps of the ocean floor and the first deep ocean dives. Jacques Cousteau invents the Aqua-Lung, and a prehistoric fish long thought to be extinct is found alive on the ocean floor.
 
1951 - 1970: During this period ocean laboratories evolved, the deepest ocean dive took place (1960) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was established (1970) to help with ocean research.
 
1971 - Present: After 1970, there were many exciting findings incluing the discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents, the wreck of the Titanic, and the first video of a live giant squid in the ocean.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

In short, we've come a long way from the primitive sailing vessels we used to rely on. From fishing to traveling and oil extraction, humankind now occupies the seas as much as the earth. And yet, there is still so much to be explored.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

Before getting into the role of NASA in ocean exploration, here are ten ocean facts to relay their immenseness and importance:

  1. Our oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface.
  2. 94% of the Earth’s living species exist within the oceans.
  3. We have explored less than 5% of Earth’s oceans.
  4. Earth’s longest chain of mountains, the Mid-Ocean Ridge, is almost entirely beneath the ocean, stretching across a distance of 65,000 kilometers. It’s said that this mountain chain is less explored than the surface of Venus or Mars.
  5. There are more historic artifacts under the sea than in all of the world’s museums. Around 1,000 shipwrecks lie off the Florida Keys alone, some within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Other underwater museums have been created in recent years, including the Mediterranean’s submerged bronze statue, Christ of the Abyss.
  6. The World Register of Marine Species claims that there are 240,470 noted marine species, but this is believed to be just a tiny proportion of the existing species.
  7. The ocean produces over 70% of our planet’s oxygen. 
  8. There are rivers and lakes beneath the ocean: when saltwater and hydrogen sulfide are combined, it becomes denser than the rest of the water around it, forming a lake or river that flows beneath the sea.
  9. Around 50% of the United Stated stands underwater.
  10. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean and contains around 25,000 islands.

 Did you know these facts?

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

Now, the time for our primary question: why has NASA stopped exploring the oceans? This question was brought to light after a TikTok video from memes_to_click asserts NASA's original mission as oceans exploration. This statement left many people wondering the truth behind this claim and, if there was any truth in it, the reason behind NASA's change in the realm of exploration.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:16 PM

NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is an independent agency of the United States federal government invested in space research. The agency opened in 1958 and was developed according to the following objectives:

  1. The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;
  2. The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;
  3. The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies, and living organisms through space;
  4. The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes;
  5. The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:17 PM

These objectives indicate that NASA's purpose was not to explore oceans but to explore space and the atmosphere. Yet, did NASA ever explore the ocean?
 
The answer is yes but not directly. NASA partnered up with other agencies to monitor gravitational anomalies (which involved the oceans) and the salinity of Earth’s oceans, and how salt moved around the planet. However, these explorations were done from space, thus discrediting the video's claim.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:17 PM

With this said, one last question remains: why do so much of the oceans remain unexplored? The answer is the absolute inaccessibility of parts of the world’s oceans. The deeper one goes down into the sea, the colder and darker it gets and the more pressure you feel. These conditions make it hard to access the deepest parts of the ocean.

Mónica FreitasJan 3, 2022, 3:17 PM

Resources:
https://www.thefocus.news/lifestyle/why-did-nasa-stop-exploring-the-ocean/
https://www.newsweek.com/nasa-explore-ocean-founded-fact-check-1579491
http://www.seasky.org/ocean-exploration/ocean-timeline-menu.html
https://www.trafalgar.com/real-word/10-unbelievable-facts-ocean/
https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/backmatter/whatisexploration.html

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