Sailors, scientists and ocean conservationists have been trying to accurately map the ocean floor for more than 200 years. A variety of methods have been used in the past, but these days researchers are relying on the ever-evolving technology of satellites.
Using special instruments, satellites such as NASA’s Jason-3 can record sea level changes and gravitational forces. Researchers use data collected about gravitational forces, which can indicate ocean depth, to create an idea of what the sea floor might look like.
Even with advanced satellites, we’ve only mapped 5 percent of the ocean floor in high resolution. Knowing the depth of the ocean is important, but it doesn't tell us much about underwater volcanoes, trenches and other formations on the sea floor. It also can't tell us about the undiscovered species living in the depths of the ocean. New species can help scientists research the effects of climate change, develop new medicines and understand adaptations.
Mapping the entirety of the ocean floor is a big job. It would take more than just satellites—remote-controlled vehicles on the ocean floor and manned submarines would be needed to gather accurate data. However, we can't protect what we don't know. If we want to preserve the ocean—and the oxygen, water, climate regulation, food and other resources it provides for our survival—it's time to start diving deeper!
Read more about exploring the ocean floor here!