In this blog, we’ll dive into why is it easier to explore space than the ocean.
Space exploration and ocean exploration are two vast frontiers that humanity continues to uncover.
But while we’ve landed astronauts on the moon and sent probes deep into our solar system, the ocean depths remain comparatively mysterious
1. Lack of Visibility Makes Ocean Exploration More Difficult
While space is empty and transparent, allowing us to see far into the distance, the ocean is filled with water that limits visibility. Even in shallow coastal regions, the farthest the human eye can see is about 200 feet. In the deep sea, it’s total darkness. This lack of visibility creates major challenges for ocean exploration, from safely navigating underwater vehicles to observing marine life.
2. Extreme Water Pressure Limits How Deep We Can Go
The ocean exerts enormous pressure that intensifies rapidly with depth. At just a few thousand feet down, the pressure can be equivalent to several SUVs stacked on top of a human body. This intense pressure crushes most submersibles. While spacecraft also require shielding for the vacuum of space, the materials and engineering needed to withstand ocean depths pose a unique challenge for ocean exploration.
3. The Lack of Buoyancy in Water Complicates Movement
Unlike the zero-gravity environment of space, the ocean offers no buoyancy or lift. This means underwater vehicles must continuously expend energy to counteract gravity and propel themselves forward.
The viscosity of water also creates substantial drag forces that hinder motion, especially at deeper depths with higher pressure. Developing submersibles capable of efficient movement through such a dense medium poses engineering obstacles not present for spacecraft.
4. More Funding Goes Towards Space Exploration
Government space agencies receive far greater funding compared to ocean research institutions. For example, NASA’s budget is over $20 billion annually, while NOAA receives around $5 billion. More resources devoted to space travel enable faster technological advancement.
The high costs and engineering challenges of deep sea missions also discourage private investment, unlike the growing commercial space industry. Without adequate funding, ocean exploration cannot match the pace of progress in space.
5. We Can Build Specialized Spaceships but Few Submarines Go Very Deep
While we have built spacecraft that can travel over 3 million miles to Mars, most deep-diving submarines cannot go deeper than 20,000 feet. The immense pressure and hostile conditions of the deep ocean require incredibly complex and expensive submersibles.
Only a handful of vehicles like the Trieste bathyscaphe have reached the deepest point on Earth. In contrast, space technology has rapidly evolved to launch satellites, rovers, probes, and humans beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. The challenges of deep-sea travel have limited technological progress in submarine design and material science.
6. The Ocean Is Vaster and Less Explored Than Space
While space is vast, the ocean covers over 70% of the planet and has an average depth of 2.5 miles. Less than 5% of the seabed has been mapped, photographed, or thoroughly studied. New species are frequently discovered in the deep sea, along with shipwrecks, hydrothermal vents, and underwater mountains. Space may seem endless, but satellites have mapped the surfaces of planets and moons in our solar system. While the ocean still holds many mysteries, space exploration has revealed more of the cosmos thanks to advancing technologies.
7. The Deep Ocean Potentially Contains New Life Forms
The extreme conditions of the deep sea such as high pressure, absence of light, and geological activity have led to the evolution of unique organisms. Anglerfish, giant squid, and tube worms are examples of strange deep sea creatures.
Scientists estimate over 90% of marine species have yet to be discovered. Who knows what odd life forms are down there, adapted to the challenging environment? While space may have basic microbial life, complex extraterrestrial organisms have not been confirmed. The rich diversity of life on Earth is still being uncovered, especially in the uncharted depths of the ocean.
Why Is It Easier to Travel to Space Than the Ocean?
It is easier to travel in space than in the ocean because there is no friction or drag in the vacuum of space. Rockets and spacecraft can accelerate to tremendous speeds. Underwater exploration faces challenges like pressure, corrosion, and communication difficulties.
Why Exploring Space Is Better Than Exploring the Ocean?
Exploring space allows us to learn about the origins of the universe, search for life outside Earth, and inspire technological innovation. While ocean exploration also has benefits, space travel captures the imagination more and reveals information about the whole cosmos.
How Is Exploring Oceans Similar to Exploring Space?
Exploring the oceans and exploring space both involve venturing into little-known environments that are extremely hostile to human life. They require specialized vehicles and advanced technology and expand our knowledge of the world/universe. Both push the boundaries of what we know and can achieve.
In summary, it is easier to explore outer space than the deep oceans for several key reasons. There is no friction in space, allowing spacecraft to accelerate rapidly, while underwater exploration faces challenges like high pressure, corrosion, and communication difficulties. Additionally, space travel captures the imagination more profoundly and reveals information about the entire cosmos. Technologically, we can send probes vast distances into space and observe it with telescopes, while the ocean’s secrets often lie hidden below the surface. However, both outer space and the deep ocean represent fascinating frontiers for humanity to continue exploring. As we’ve seen, pushing those frontiers expands our knowledge and capabilities. Ultimately, why it’s easier to explore space helps explain why we’ve revealed more of its secrets so far than the ocean’s.