Well we've been saying for years, why explore outer space when most of the worlds oceans are still unexplored?
"Even though they cover two-third's of the planet's surface, we know
precious little about how the oceans actually interact with the
continents and atmosphere. What's more, our oceanic models are woefully
incomplete—only capable of showing large areas with reduced resolution
or in high detail over a limited area. But a new fleet of autonomous
research submarines are about to rectify that problem."
"These 16 gliders were built as part of Rutgers University's Challenger
mission to explore and quantify deep ocean currents and provide
researchers a means of testing existing oceanic models for accuracy
against the collected data. Each UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle)
measures just over seven feet long and utilizes buoyancy changes within
the water column to propel it along at speeds of 21 miles per day.
That's pretty slow, even by conventional seafaring standards, but over
the course of the next two years, these gliders are expected to cover a
total of 128,000 square kilometers (nearly 80,000 square miles)
throughout five ocean basins—each one covering 6,000 to 8,000 km