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Ocean Deep Learnings? Competition Aims to Map Ocean Floor

Dec 30, 2015 07:46 PM EST

Despite advances in human technology, Earth's ocean remains largely a mystery.

This may soon change, however, thanks to a new competition that aims to map the ocean floor. 

In light of the unexplored depths of our planet's ocean, the X Prize Foundation has launched the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, a competition aimed at mapping the ocean floor. The competition challenges teams across the globe to create technology capable of high-resolution ocean mapping.

"Historically, access to the deep ocean has been limited by the extraordinary physical challenges of exploring this extreme environment, high cost, limited technological advancements, and lack of investment," the foundation said on its website.

The competition will be comprised of two rounds with a total prize of $7 million. The first round of testing will be conducted at a depth of 2,000 meters, the second at 4,000 meters.

Teams are allowed to launch their inventions from air or shore. Within a limited time frame, competing groups must produce a high-resolution bathymetric map, images of a specified object, identification of archaeological, biological, or geological features, and, for a bonus prize, track a chemical or biological signal to its source.

$4 million will be awarded to the first place team, $1 million to the second place team and $1 million will be split among the top ten teams from round one.

"The success of this prize will allow us to fully explore and map the ocean floor, and uncover our planet's greatest wonder and resource for the benefit of humanity," X Prize said. "The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) $1 million bonus prize will incentivize teams to develop technologies to detect the source of chemical and biological signals underwater."

X Prize hopes the competition will spur innovation for deep sea exploration, as well as spark the imagination of the public, the website copy noted.

"The Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE will usher in a new era of ocean exploration by pushing the boundaries of existing technologies and discovering new ocean species, underwater resources, geological features, and safer methods of exploring the deep sea," the foundation said on its website.

You can sign up for the competition here.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN). 

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