Waterworld we is

Seeing as we are land animals, it is no surprise that our planet got christened “Earth” or “Terra”.  But, considering that 3/4’s of the surface of our planet is covered in water,  “Ocean” might be a better name.  And we still know very little of what is under all that water.  When we lose things in the ocean, they often are very difficult to find.  A good case in point is the wreckage of Flight 370, the airliner that was apparently hijacked, and then left on autopilot to fly until it ran out of fuel.  Merely by coincidence, a satellite system was communicating with the aircraft, and the records of that conversation proved that the plane flew out into the vastness of the southern Indian Ocean.

Finding pieces of an aircraft that broke up when it hit the water is an extremely difficult task, and this search is made harder by the lack of precise tracking data.  Adding to the problem is the depth of the water in the search area; 2 or more kilometers at the least, so deep that light does not penetrate.  Only with remote sensors can we examine the ocean floor, and we have no maps of the ocean bottom to work with.  Mapping the ocean floor all over the world would tell us a great deal about the planet we live on, and would not require a lot of resources.  The search is generating high-precision sonar maps of the area the plane is believed to have crashed in, but we are still examining hundreds of square kilometers.

The loss of Flight 370 has renewed calls for a world-wide satellite system to monitor the paths of aircraft and ships.  In an era when hijacking and piracy are not unknown, we could benefit immensely by insuring that we keep track of what is traveling over or on the oceans.  A satellite beacon allowed a young woman to be rescued from an area in the southern Indian Ocean as remote as the area Flight 370 is believed to have crashed in.  Similar technology would have pinpointed the location of crash, as well as informing Air Traffic Control where the aircraft actually was when it disappeared off of radar.


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