While we think of the cosmos as being full of mystery, there are plenty of unexplored places remaining on our own planet — under the oceans. Only about 5% of the Earth's sea floor has been explored.
But now, thanks to a robotic submarine deployed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research ship Okeanos Explorer, we'll all be able to go online and take a peek at some of that unknown territory in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
The just-started mission will send the robotic sub on 20 dives, some of them as much as 3.7 miles deep, according to a NOAA press release.. Many of those dives will take place in the Puerto Rico Trench, a 500-mile-long stretch of the sea floor that in some places is 5.4 miles deep, making it the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean basin.
Other areas to be explored include the Muertos Trough, Mona Channel and Virgin Islands Trough.
The robotic sub — in NOAA lingo, a remotely-operated vehicle, or ROV — will continuously capture high-definition video, which the public will be able to view on this website..
While the area to be explored is uncharted, scientists know that it has a lot of tectonic plate activity and is a potential source of earthquakes and tsunamis. They also suspect that it contains geological figures such as seamounts and mud volcanoes.
Okeanos Explorer recently finished mapping 13,600 square miles of seafloor around the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, gathering data that will be used by biologists, geologists, oceanographers and geophysicists.
Live video from a 2013 expedition to deep-sea canyons off the northeast Atlantic coast of the United States garnered more than 875,000 views.