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Ocean exploration past, present, and future (images)

In 1960, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard became the first--and only--humans to dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. But ocean exploration, though neglected, is gaining steam.

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CNET Reviews staff
Walsh and Piccard waving
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Thomas Abercrombie, National Geographic Society

Walsh and Piccard waving

On January 23, 1960, Walsh and Piccard emerged from their trip 36,201 feet below the surface to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Here, they wave after surfacing.
Trieste and Navy ships
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Thomas Abercrombie, National Geographic Society

Trieste and Navy ships

Here the Trieste is seen swinging on cables at Guam's Apra Harbor. The bathyscaphe was designed to withstand the water pressure equivalent of the weight of five battleships.
Trieste pressure sphere
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Naval History and Heritage Command

Trieste pressure sphere

This image, taken in 1958 or 1959, not long after the U.S. Navy bought the Trieste, shows a close-up view of the vessel's pressure sphere. In it, it is possible to see the instrument leads and the plexiglass window, and in the upper left of the image, the forward ballast silo, including a metering valve on its bottom.
Okeanos Explorer
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NOAA

Okeanos Explorer

The Okeanos Explorer, which is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Originally a military ship, the Okeanos has been retrofitted to be an ocean exploring vessel, and is intended to travel the globe, mapping as much of the seafloor as possible. The ship will carry a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), an unmanned submersible that can dive to 6,000 meters below the surface. By sending data back over fiber-optic cables, the ROV will be able to transit high-definition video and high-resolution images to the surface and beyond. Using telepresence, the Okeanos will allow scientists and other researchers anywhere in the world to see what the ROV is seeing, in real time.
Command Center
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NOAA

Command Center

A command center where scientists and other researchers can see video and examine data sent back from the Okeanos Explorer and its remotely operated vehicle (ROV), an unmanned submersible that can reach 6,000 meters below the surface of the ocean.
Tim Shank and Nereus
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Tim Shank and Nereus

Tim Shank, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute biologist, was co-chief scientist of an expedition in May 2009 to send the Nereus, a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. The Nereus was the first vessel to reach the bottom of the trench, which is 36,201 feet below the surface, since 1998. But no human has been that deep since 1960, when Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard took the Navy bathyscaphe Trieste there.
Nereus working
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Nereus working

Footage of the ROV Nereus working on the ocean floor, as recorded by HD video cameras aboard the Nereus.
Nereus under water
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Nereus under water

The Nereus, as photographed under water. The ROV can travel to the world's deepest points.
Nereus filling a box
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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

Nereus filling a box

A robotic arm attached to the Nereus readies to fill a small box with material from the ocean floor.
Disney's 'Oceans'
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Disney Nature

Disney's 'Oceans'

On April 22, Earth Day, Disney Nature will release "Oceans," a feature film about the world's largest bodies of water and, among other things, the exploration that can take place in the oceans. The film is narrated by Pierce Brosnan. Here, a school of fish spins tightly in the blue sea.
Necker Nymph
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Hawkes Ocean Technologies

Necker Nymph

The Necker Nymph, a model of DeepFlight Merlin, a 3-person submersible built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, was purchased by Richard Branson and delivered to Branson's private Island, Necker. The vessel "represents a new class of high-performance, positively buoyant vehicles which safely extend the overall capabilities of scuba, while offering the unique experience of underwater flight. Unlike all conventional submersibles which use ballast to sink in the water, the DeepFlight submersibles uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down to depth," according to Hawkes Ocean Technologies.
The Nymph under water
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Hawkes Ocean Technologies

The Nymph under water

Richard Branson's DeepFlight Merlin, built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, seen under water. The vessel, known as the Necker Nymph, glides "on the water's surface like an airplane on a runway...[One] the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down, and the thrilling experience begins," Hawkes Ocean Technologies says of the DeepFlight Merlin. "Uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins, or spyhop with whales; the options are endless. With the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360-degree turns, the sub is hydrobatic. Individual 'wind shields' remove the pressure of slipstream, enabling comfortable speed and ranges previously unthinkable without enclosing the pilots. The open cockpits afford near ideal 360-degree viewing for occupants, creating a uniquely open experience."
Sea turtle and fish
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Disney Nature

Sea turtle and fish

A screen shot from the Disney Nature film, "Oceans," which opens on April 22, showing a sea turtle and a school of fish.
Whales
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Disney Nature

Whales

Two whales glow in streams of light coming down from above and through the surface of the ocean, as seen in this screen shot from the Disney Nature film, "Oceans."
Diving with shark
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Disney Nature

Diving with shark

In this screen shot from "Oceans," a diver is seen just alongside a Great White Shark.

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