Nasa’s space mission leads us to unexplored depths of our own planet.
And that includes the breathtaking oceans – but why did they stop exploring? And what did they find? Here’s everything you need to know.
Why did NASA stop exploring the ocean?
And the good news is NASA hasn’t yet decided to stop exploring the ocean – despite what some might think.
In 2015, the Aquarius mission came to an end due to a technical fault and in 2015 the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment was stopped as the GRACE-2 satellite had to be retired because of its age.
However, in 2021 NASA partnered with deep-ocean explorers to develop tech for Europa mission – so the interest in ocean exploration is unlikely to decline anytime soon.
And judging by the latest incentives NASA has launched – the next years are bound to bring unprecedented breakthroughs to light.
Why were NASA exploring the ocean?
NASA has run numerous ocean exploration programs which concern the ocean worlds found on Mars and other moons.
Thanks to a combination of impossibly deep waters, immense pressure, and a lack of sunlight – over 80 percent of the total oceans on Earth are a total mystery.
And two NASA ESSP missions have set out to uncover these mysteries – these include the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and the Aquarius mission.
GRACE, which launched on March 17, 2002, was designed to explore hitherto undetectable variations in the mass field of the ocean – which is important for climate and ocean circulation studies.
The Aquarius mission, which was launched on on June 10, 2011, was set up to explore the salinity of the ocean from space – known as NEEMO, groups of astronauts, engineers and scientists are sent to live in Aquarius.
The Aquarius is the world’s only undersea research station and researchers are sent there for up to three weeks at a time.
Aquarius scientists worked to understand the changing ocean and the condition of coral reefs – which are threatened locally, regionally and globally by increasing amounts of pollution, over-harvesting of fisheries, disease and climate change.
Explorations of the ocean carried out by NASA have lead to knowledge and technology that is now widely used in research and application.
Examples of this initiative include – ocean surface togography as measured by precision altimeters, ocean vector winds as measured by scatterometers, and ocean color as measured by radiometers.
What did NASA find in the ocean?
Aquarius provided essential ocean surface salinity data needed to link the water cycle and ocean circulation-two major components of the climate system.
The mission also discovered that inhabitants of Aquarius, known as “aquanauts,” could stay indefinitely and have nearly unlimited bottom time during their scuba dives from Aquarius.
At the end of a mission, aquanauts undergo a 17-hour decompression that is conducted within Aquarius itself, while on the bottom.
At the end of decompression, aquanauts exited Aquarius and scuba-dived back to the surface.