On June 7, astronaut and oceanographer Kathy Sullivan, who was the first American woman to walk in space in 1984, became the first woman and the fifth person in history to descend to the deepest known spot in the world’s oceans, called the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which is seven miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.
What is ‘Challenger Deep’?
- According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US, the average depth of the ocean is about 12,100 feet and the deepest part is called the Challenger Deep, which is located below the surface of the western Pacific Ocean. It is approximately 36,200 feet deep.
Why is it important to explore deep oceans?
- As per NOAA, most of the existing knowledge of the oceans comes from shallower waters, while deeper waters remain relatively unexplored, even as humans are relying more on these areas for food, energy and other resources.
- “Ocean exploration, however, is not randomly wandering in hopes of finding something new. It is disciplined and organised and includes rigorous observations and documentation of biological, chemical, physical, geological, and archaeological aspects of the ocean,” the NOAA website says.
- Further, finding out more about the deep ocean areas can potentially reveal new sources for medical drugs, food, energy resources and other products.
- Significantly, information from the deep oceans can also help to predict earthquakes and tsunamis, and help us understand how we are affecting and getting affected by the Earth’s environment.