An Image of the Ocean and The Night Sky with Visible Planets

Ocean Or Space: What Have We Explored More?

Despite their differences, the universe above and our oceans on Earth have one thing in common: they overflow with mystery. Humans are not adapted to survive in space or the oceans, and so we are restricted from freely exploring these environments without the aid of technology. We are a curious species, and our lack of ability to explore these environments has only intrigued us more. Which have humans explored more of, outer space or the oceans?

How Much Of The Oceans Have Been Explored?

Divers Exploring Corals in the Ocean in Seychelles
Divers Exploring Corals in the Ocean in Seychelles

The Earth’s oceans are vast, not just in terms of size but also in terms of depth. The oceans make up roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface. The Pacific Ocean alone makes up 45% of the Earth’s surface. The average depth of the Earth’s oceans is 12,100 feet (3,688 meters). The deepest point on Earth is the Marianas Trench at 35,876 feet (10,935 meters). For comparison, that’s deeper than Mount Everest is tall. Not even the tallest mountain on Earth could reach the deepest part of the ocean. By size and volume, the oceans are unimaginably gigantic, and just from size alone, it’s easy to see just how difficult it would be to explore the entirety of Earth’s oceans. Size and volume aren’t the only factors, either. The oceans are perilous for humans. Not only are temperatures cold, but the water pressure is also strong enough to crush a person. Go deep enough, and even sunlight cannot penetrate the waves.

Although technological advancements have allowed humans to explore the oceans like never before, the cost of underwater expeditions is not cheap. Despite technological advances, humanity has only managed to examine roughly 5% of the oceans. That means that society has only truly mapped about 35% of the Earth’s surface. 65% of what’s in the oceans remains a complete mystery. Likely countless species are waiting to be discovered, along with undiscovered geologic features such as underwater mountain ranges and volcanoes

How Much Of Space Has Been Discovered?

Two Astronauts on a Planet in Outer Space, Looking at the Milky Way Galaxy
Two Astronauts on a Planet in Outer Space, Looking at the Milky Way Galaxy

Like with the Earth’s oceans, humans cannot survive in space without the aid of technology. That makes space exploration tremendously tricky, not to mention the fact that space travel is costly. However, scientists can use telescopes to observe the distant universe, unlike the oceans. The most powerful telescopes can see up to 13-billion light-years away. Even in just our solar system, scientists have fully mapped all planets. Scientists have made more accurate maps of the surfaces of Mercury, Venus, and Mars than they have of Earth’s oceans. Given this information, it may seem as though humanity has explored more of space than Earth’s oceans. However, there is an essential factor to consider.

The Earth’s oceans may be huge, but they are nothing compared to the vastness of the universe. The size of the cosmos indeed stretches beyond what the human brain can physically comprehend. Although telescopes have given us the ability to see most of the visible universe, most of the universe is not visible to our eyes. Most of the universe is composed of dark matter and dark energy, two components of the universe that do not interact with visible matter or light, making them invisible to our eyes. If we assume that humanity has explored most of what is visible in the universe, that only comprises roughly 4% of everything in the universe. The remaining 96% is dark matter and dark energy. Even in terms of visible matter, it’s possible that we can only observe our section of the universe, referred to as the observable universe. Since the speed of light is finite, there is a physical limit to how far we can see. There is very likely more universe out there to discover, but it will forever be hidden from us by the laws of physics. 

Mystery surrounds the oceans of our world and the cosmos above. In terms of what we can see in the universe, we have explored roughly the same amount of the oceans as we have the universe. As technology continues to advance, we will likely uncover more. Who knows what discoveries await us and how they will challenge our view of the natural world? 

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