Earlier in 2013, scientists discovered the largest volcano on Earth, which sits under the Pacific Ocean a thousand miles east of Japan. This geologic giant also rivals the largest volcano in the solar system – Mars’s Olympus Mons peak, which we’ve known about for centuries. That a dome-shaped formation the size of New Mexico on the seafloor had gone unnoticed until long after the advent of space exploration speaks volumes about just how little knowledge we have regarding the 70 percent of the world that’s covered by water.
This century will see the end of our ignorance.
From state-of-the-art diving gear to vessels that appear to have been lifted from the pages of science fiction, new technologies are allowing underwater explorers to go farther and deeper than ever before. Several decades after scuba gear first allowed us to poke around in the shallows, manned and unmanned submersibles are taking scientists into the depths, cameras are bringing open water to the masses, and underwater planes are swooping through vast expanses of blue.
Technology is the prerequisite for oceanic exploration, and the next wave of innovations has arrived. Here are the devices and vehicles that will finally allow humans to explore the rest of our world.